On Wednesday, October 7, 2020 Elisabeth Lauffer ’07 participated in a Zoom discussion, sponsored by East End Books Ptown, with Lea Singer, the author of Der Klavierschüler – The Piano Student, which Elisabeth recently translated for New Vessel Press. Singer’s novel draws its inspiration from love letters written by the piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz to his first pupil, Nico Kaufmann. which Singer discovered in a Swiss archive. In 2014 Elisabeth received the Gutekunst Prize for young translators from the Goethe-Institut. Her senior honors thesis at Wesleyan was a translation of Wladimir Kaminer’s Die Reise nach Trulala. Descriptions of her other translations can be found at www.elisabethlauffer.com.
How Studying Abroad Helped me Develop a Cross Cultural Understanding
by Lily Davis ’20
Ever since I was little, I have wanted to explore the world. Whenever an adult would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never really had an answer, except that I wanted to do something where I could travel, get to know different cultures, and feel independent and free. These desires dissipated a bit as I grew up and came to know the importance of a career that provides financial security and that does something to help others, but still I carried with me an eagerness to live in another country and to challenge myself in learning a new language and a new way of living. Now, as I look forward to a future working in psychology, I reflect upon my experience studying abroad in Hamburg, Germany, and how it exposed me to a new and exciting part of the world and provided me with a cross cultural perspective on mental health work.
When I arrived at Wesleyan University in 2016, I thought I had put all language-learning behind me. When I graduated high school, I wanted to get away from every bad German class I had been forced to take there: classes where we skipped important grammar skills and vocabulary, classes where I watched all eight Harry Potter movies dubbed in German with the English subtitles turned on. These classes discouraged me from learning German because they made me feel like I was constantly struggling without any real progress and without feeling that I could hold even the simplest of conversations.
But something surprising happened over the course of my first semester at Wesleyan: I watched my soon-to-be best friend, Hannah, become inspired by her beginner German course. She would come back from every class telling me how much fun it was and how much she was learning in such a short amount of time. I decided then that I would give German another go and enrolled in a language course for the second semester of my freshman year. I had always wanted to study abroad during my time in college, so I decided that this would be the way I would do it. I would study German hard for two and a half years and then go abroad during the spring semester of my Junior year. And you know what? I did just that.
In March of 2019, I flew across the ocean to Hamburg, Germany, to begin my semester abroad. The German university course schedule is set up slightly different from that of American universities, so I ended up taking four courses, each of which only met once a week. This freed up a lot of out-of-the-classroom time that I would not normally have had while studying at Wesleyan, and I was adamant about finding something meaningful to fill that time.
One of the things I was worried about when I decided to study abroad in Hamburg was losing the opportunity to apply for psychology internships and research positions for the summer of 2019. Because the University of Hamburg semester schedule continued into July, I had very little time after taking my final exams before I would be beginning my senior year at the end of August. As a psychology major, post-graduate fellowships and graduate school programs are very selective, and summer research experiences and internships help to make a student look like a competitive candidate. Because of the timeline of the Hamburg study abroad program, I was worried about not being able to gain that kind of experience with my shortened summer break. In an effort to find something to do during my free time, I reached out to my German Studies Professor at Wesleyan, Professor Iris Bork, and asked if she knew of any psychology-related internships or volunteer work that I could do in Hamburg. I was in luck! Frau Bork wrote me back to tell me that her father works as the treasurer for an artists’ group in Hamburg called Die Schlumper.
Die Schlumper was founded in 1980 by a Hamburg-native artist named Rolf Laute who was inspired by the art he saw being produced by the residents of the Alsterdorf institute for the handicapped. The name, Die Schlumper, comes from the name of the street on which the artists’ first studio was located: Beim Schlump. Today, Die Schlumper is run by the artistic director and daughter of Rolf Laute, Anna Pongs-Laute, and includes around 30 handicapped adults who come together almost every day to work on different artistic endeavors, from charcoal drawing to acrylic painting to crocheting to linoleum printmaking. The mission of Die Schlumper is to provide a space where disabled adults can come together to create artistic works freely and independently. There is an inspiring atmosphere at the studio, one of community and creativity as well as a sense of artistic seriousness. In 1985, Die Schlumper became sponsored by an organization called “Freunde der Schlumper” (in English, “Friends of the Schlumpers) and the by the Hamburg Ministry for Labor, Health, and Social Welfare in 1993, and now it has a permanent studio and gallery in an old Hamburg meatpacking hall.
Another project associated with Die Schlumper is called Die Schule der Schlumper (in English: The Schlumper School). This project began in 1995 as an idea to decorate the Louise Schroeder School in the Altona district of Hamburg. This project was born as a collaboration between Die Schlumper artists and the students of this school. Named after Louise Dorothea Schroeder, an early twentieth-century politician for the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Louise Schroeder School is a primary school for both handicapped and neurotypical students. As part of Die Schule der Schlumper, school children visit Die Schlumper studio, working both independently and with the adult artists on various artistic projects. This program not only allows the students to take part in artistic work, but it also exposes them to mentally and physically disabled individuals in an effort to reduce the negative stigma that surrounds them. Die Schule der Schlumper is a very important part of Die Schlumper program and works to integrate the artists’ work into the wider Hamburg community.
In 2002, Die Schlumper began a partnership with the Alsterdorf Evangelical Foundation. Alsterdorf provides aid to people with varying different disabilities. A quote from their website says, “Unser Ziel ist, dass jeder Mensch in seinem Sozialraum ein selbstbestimmtes und eigenständiges Leben führen kann. Dazu gehört auch die gleichberechtigte Teilnahme am gesellschaftlichen Leben im Stadtteil” (Our goal is that every person can lead a self-determined and independent life in their social space. This involves equitable participation in social life in the community). This partnership with the Alsterdorf Evangelical Foundation provides financial support to Die Schlumper so that the artists can continue to work in their studio.
Die Schlumper is a unique organization in that it provides a space for handicapped adults to work every weekday on independent artistic projects which are then displayed in various gallery exhibits and sold to customers. The work produced by the artists of Die Schlumper is taken very seriously in the Hamburg artist community and beyond, and it receives the same treatment as the work of any other artist. The treatment of Die Schlumper artists’ work is an incredible demonstration of the power of the legitimization and authentication of art. Die Schlumper strives towards the destigmatization of disability through the respect and seriousness with which the organization handles their artists’ work.
Around the world, disabled people are mistreated, ignored, and ridiculed. An article titled “America Still Leaves the Disabled Behind” outlines the ways that disabled people are discriminated against in the United States. The United States has made a lot of progress in policymaking to protect against this discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications.” But still, there continues to be existing societal ideologies that see disabled people as lesser than abled people. There are similar articles circulating through the internet about the treatment of disabled people all across Europe, but there has been an obvious effort more recently to destigmatize disability in Germany. A Deutsche Welle article from March of this year stated that German lawmakers are working to rewrite terms that are used in the penal code to talk about disability. Terms such as “mentally perverted” and “mentally weak” still exist in German penal code to describe people with mental handicaps, and now there is an effort being made to replace these terms and others like them with more inclusive and sensitive language. Destigmatization is such an important part of disability inclusivity and is necessary for changing the way the world thinks about disabled people. Part of the work of Die Schlumper follows this mission. Die Schlumper as an organization treats their artists’ work with the seriousness and authenticity deserved by any and all artists, regardless of disability. It supports the idea that all people and all artwork should be treated with kindness and inclusivity.
In 2014, Die Schlumper opened an inclusive art exhibit in which they displayed artwork made by members of the group alongside the work of neurotypical artists from Hamburg. This group exhibition was titled Outdoor and showed artwork that depicted themes of the outdoors, including scenes in nature and in urban environments. Here, the works of Die Schlumper artists were displayed side by side with other international artists in a space where they could be enjoyed and respected by all. This is a beautiful example of Die Schlumper’s efforts to work with their community and to hold the art of their members up to the same standard as work by all other artists.
One thing among many that makes Die Schlumper such a special and important organization is its global reach. Around the world, there are projects inspired by Die Schlumper, from the United States to Australia to Italy. Project Onward is an art program that began in Chicago in 2004. It provides a space for adult artists with mental illness and other mental and physical disabilities to create and exhibit their art. Project Onward includes very different types of artists, from self-taught artists who have autism to formally-trained artists who have bipolar disorder. It is very similar to Die Schlumper in its mission and values and currently serves around 60 artists. A statement from the Project Onward website claims that “[they] exist to give artists with disabilities a ‘visual voice’ to tell their stories and change the perceptions of the world.”
Down in the Southern Hemisphere, Studio A based in Sydney, Australia, is another program that supports the artistic endeavors of intellectually disabled people. Studio A serves a community of artists by offering studio and exhibit spaces and by working towards destigmatizing disability and increasing inclusion and diversity in the social and professional spheres.
Die Schlumper has also exhibited its artists’ work in cities around the world. In 2008, Die Schlumper opened an exhibit in Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art) in San Gimignano, Italy, titled “Die Schlumper in Italien” (“Die Schlumper in Italy”). In 2003, Die Schlumper opened an exhibit in Chicago that displayed its own members’ artwork together with art from other international programs for people with disabilities. This exhibit was titled “Coming Together,” and it ran for three months at the Chicago Cultural Center. “Die Schlumper in Italy” and “Coming Together” presented the artwork of Die Schlumper artists to an international audience and increased awareness of disabled artists. Project Onward, Studio A, and Die Schlumper’s international exhibits suggest that the mission and values of Die Schlumper have travelled from Hamburg to different locations around the globe, inspiring organizations and programs to follow suit and to recognize the beauty of art created by disabled people who have historically been ignored, marginalized, and not taken seriously.
After spending about a month getting to know the city of Hamburg and working on my German, I met with Frau Bork and her father to attend a meeting with Anna Pongs-Laute at Die Schlumper. Anna showed me around the studio where the artists worked either at large, communal tables or in individual stalls.
While in Die Schlumper studio, there is always something to look at. Beautiful works of art adorn every wall, and there are constantly people moving about, gathering more materials for their next project or engaged in lengthy conversations about what they did over the weekend. A sense of love and community always permeated throughout the studio, and I could sense it whenever I stepped through the doors. Every morning the staff and the artists of Die Schlumper would sit together for breakfast and coffee or tea before each making their way to the workstation to begin their day. I would wander around the studio, refilling paint cans, fetching more water, sharpening pencils, and making conversation whenever the opportunity arose. There was one older man who spent his time drawing large colorful scenes with oil crayons. He would always greet me excitedly and talk about what food I had been eating recently; how much it cost, what was in season, what my favorite was. One woman would often sit quietly, sketching out portraits in pencil before going over them in acrylic paint while I prompted her about how she was and how her project was coming along. As a student learning to speak German, something I found extremely helpful during my internship at Die Schlumper was the time and space that it allowed me to strike up casual and simple conversations with the artists there. While I was often intimidated and nervous about speaking in German, at Die Schlumper I found that I could actively participate in conversations about food, painting, or my weekend, which helped me to make strides in my conversational German skills. Whenever I stumbled or misunderstood something while speaking to the artists, I was not laughed at, and there was no big deal made, rather, the conversation moved right along. Also, as a student living in a big city for six months, I did not find it very easy to form relationships. At Die Schlumper, there was always a friendly face, always a loud “Guten Morgen!”, and always someone who was excited to chat with me. On my last day at Die Schlumper, the older man who liked to talk about food with me began to cry when he heard that my weekly visits were coming to an end. He gave me a big hug and said that he would miss me. Among the relationships I made while I was living abroad, these are some that I will treasure forever.
My internship at Die Schlumper provided me with both a social space to practice my German and a hands-on experience working with intellectually disabled adults. This is something that, even as a third-year psychology student, I had not encountered before. This internship prepared me for future jobs in psychology, including working at a summer camp for intellectually and socially disabled children as well as the post-graduate clinical psychology fellowship at Mclean Hospital that I was recently offered. At Die Schlumper, I was able to observe what types of situations made some of the artists worked up and anxious and what situations calmed them. Often, I saw that the most helpful thing I could do was sit with them and listen to what they had to say. I witnessed the kindness, selflessness, and hard work of Die Schlumper staff as they worked to create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere that cultivated artistic work.
At Die Schlumper I also experienced a variety of psychological phenomena and treatments in an international context that I had previously learned about as a psychology student. These observations provided me with a cross cultural perspective on psychology and mental health that I took back with me to Wesleyan. I believe it is so critical to use a cross cultural perspective to think about all areas of academic study in order to understand beliefs, values, and practices that may be different from one’s own. In psychology, it is both fascinating and progressive to compare the many different approaches to mental health care and disability used around the world, and my internship with Die Schlumper really allowed me to begin to do this.
When reflecting back on my time studying in Hamburg, I think about all the new friends I made, the places I explored, and the things I learned. Beyond the progress I made with my German language skills, I also learned to have courage and that one must take advantage of the surrounding world. My internship at Die Schlumper was an important part of my personal development during my time in Hamburg, and I believe that it really equipped me with important ways of thinking and being as I head into my future career.
 Frank Kübler, “The Schlumper: Studio.” Die Schlumper: Studio. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.schlumper.de/en/seite-2.html.
 Frank Kübler, “The Schlumper School The Louise Schroeder School and ‘Die Schlumper.’” Die Schlumper: School. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.schlumper.de/en/seite-3.html.
 “Unsere Grundsätze.” Louise Schroeder Schule, June 27, 1970. https://louise-schroeder-schule.hamburg.de/unsere-schule-2/unsere-grundsaetze/.
 “Evangelische Stiftung Alsterdorf : Assistenz.” Alsterdorf, January 14, 2020. https://www.alsterdorf.de/arbeitsfelder/assistenz.html.
 Ananya Bhattacharya and Heather Long. “America Still Leaves the Disabled Behind.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, July 26, 2015. https://money.cnn.com/2015/07/26/news/economy/americans-with-disabilities-act-problems-remain/.
 “Employment Laws: Disability & Discrimination.” Publications – Employment Laws: Disability & Discrimination – Office of Disability Employment Policy – United States Department of Labor. US Department of Labor. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/laws.htm.
 Douglas, Elliot. “Germany Set to Oust ‘Stigmatizing’ Terms around Disability from Penal Code.” DW. DW, March 11, 2020. https://www.dw.com/en/germany-set-to-oust-stigmatizing-terms-around-disability-from-penal-code/a-52723245.
 Frank Kübler, “Outdoor – The Schlumper Gallery.” Die Schlumper: 2014. Accessed May 16, 2020. https://www.schlumper.de/en/gallery/archive/2014.html.
 “About Project Onward.” Project Onward. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.projectonward.org/about.
 “About Studio A.” Studio A. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.studioa.org.au/about.
 “Coming Together.” MCA. Accessed May 16, 2020. https://mcachicago.org/Exhibitions/2002/Coming-Together.
“About Project Onward.” Project Onward. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.projectonward.org/about.
“About Studio A.” Studio A. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.studioa.org.au/about.
Bhattacharya, Ananya, and Heather Long. “America Still Leaves the Disabled Behind.”
CNNMoney. Cable News Network, July 26, 2015. https://money.cnn.com/2015/07/26/news/economy/americans-with-disabilities-act-problems-remain/.
Douglas, Elliot. “Germany Set to Oust ‘Stigmatizing’ Terms around Disability from Penal Code.” DW, March 11, 2020. https://www.dw.com/en/germany-set-to-oust-stigmatizing-terms-around-disability-from-penal-code/a-52723245.
“Employment Laws: Disability & Discrimination.” Publications – Employment Laws: Disability & Discrimination – Office of Disability Employment Policy – United States Department of Labor. US Department of Labor. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/laws.htm.
Kübler, Frank. “Outdoor – The Schlumper Gallery.” Die Schlumper: 2014. Accessed May 16, 2020. https://www.schlumper.de/en/gallery/archive/2014.html.
———. “The Schlumper School The Louise Schroeder School and ‘Die Schlumper.’” DieSchlumper: School. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.schlumper.de/en/seite-3.html.
———.“The Schlumper: Studio.” Die Schlumper: Studio. Accessed April 20, 2020. https://www.schlumper.de/en/seite-2.html.
“Unsere Grundsätze.” Louise Schroeder Schule, June 27, 1970. https://louise-schroederschule.hamb
Department of German Studies Dr. Iris Bork-Goldfield Adj. Professor of German Studies, Chair
May 18, 2020
Dear Binxin, Scott, Hannah, Thomas, Mathias, Lily, and Charlie,
Before you officially graduate on May 24, 2020, Uli Plass, Martin Bäumel, and I would like to congratulate you on your many wonderful achievements. I count myself as lucky to have had you in one or more classes during your time here at Wesleyan on your way to becoming more proficient in German. The last few weeks were challenging for all of us, but we managed—on some days better than on others. But you did it, you finished all your requirements! Although the future is somewhat uncertain, we have no doubt that you all will move on to many other exciting opportunities. We wish all of you the very best and hope you will stay in touch with us here at Wesleyan.
I would like to put some information about you, your accomplishments, and future plans on our German Studies blog. If you have not done so already, could you please send me a paragraph or two about your future plans, anything that you would like to share, AND a picture of yourself? Here is a link to a previous blog entry: http://german.site.wesleyan.edu/2018/06/17/german-studies-majors-and-minors-summer-2018/.
Vielen Dank im Voraus, alles Gute und nochmals herzlichen Glückwunsch.
Binxin, thank you for having been such a wonderful German Haus manager and dedicated student. I will miss our lively discussions in my office. Congratulations on receiving the well-deserved Blankenagel prize! I am looking forward to reading your senior thesis, “Im Geheimnis der Begegnung – Poetics, Ossification, and Reading in Rilke and Celan,” which discusses, to quote Uli Plass, “the poetry of Rilke and Celan in light of their own poetics, that is, in light of how these poets conceive of their poetry in relation to the poetic tradition and conventions they inherit.” Congratulations on being admitted to Columbia University’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program this fall.
Scott, thank you for your enthusiasm and good humor. I especially enjoyed our tutorial on the Bauhaus last fall when we were still allowed to meet face-to-face and traveled to New York and Bethel together with our class to explore Bauhaus art. You received two Reihlen grants to help with your research in Germany for your senior thesis, “Utopian Longing: Space and the Production of Affect in the Work of Toni Schwabe.” Toni Schwabe, as Martin Bäumel wrote, was “a fascinating writer between neoromantic kitsch and explorations of gender norms” who “would probably be forgotten were it not for Thomas Mann’s review of one of her novels.” Congratulations on your thesis which—together with Binxin’s is one of the items on my summer reading list. I hope you will be able to move to Germany soon to start your DAAD fellowship at Konstanz University.
Hannah, thank you for all your insightful and thoughtful discussions throughout the years and for introducing us to the graphic novel Kinderland in our GDR seminar. You received a Reihlen grant that enabled you to return to Hamburg last year and interview my parents and Jutta Gutzeit (director of the Smith in Hamburg program) among others as background for writing the screenplay “On Belongings,” about a German family moving to Arizona in the 1970’s. I truly enjoyed reading the Drehbuch and working with you on the translations for parts of it. Now, I only hope that one day we will see the story of the Frühlings and the Kaplans on-screen.
Thomas, thank you for your perseverance and thoughtful contributions in class. I still remember you, as freshman, entering the beginning German classroom with your skateboard under your arm. I enjoyed the times we met during your study abroad in Hamburg and the various discussions in German in my GDR seminar this spring. You mentioned that you might be doing something with Web design this summer, and I hope you will find what you are looking for.
Mathias, thank you for your many superb contributions in our GDR seminar this spring and your final paper on poetry and its role in the former GDR. This fall, you will continue your studies at Columbia University in pursuit of a Master’s degree in European history, politics, and society regarding the development of Europe. I hope the German you learned at Wesleyan will come in handy.
Lily, thank you for sharing the experience you gained while interning at Die Schlumper in Hamburg last year. Die Schlumper, and I quote you, “is a unique organization in that it provides a space for handicapped adults to work every weekday on independent artistic projects which are then displayed in various gallery exhibits and sold to customers.” I was happy to learn that the internship not only helped you with your German and making new friends, but also with furthering your career in Psychology. Congratulations on being admitted to a two-year Post-Baccalaureate Clinical Fellowship Program at the Simches Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at McLean Hospital.
Charlie, thank you for coming to my office in the fall to declare a GRST minor. I have pleasant recollections of the boat ride from Hamburg harbor to Blankenese, when you interviewed me for a course you were taking at Hamburg University last summer.
Viele Grüße und vor allem—bleiben Sie alle gesund! Das ist jetzt das Wichtigste.
The German Department welcomes our Teaching Assistant Katharina Bueschler to the department. She will teach the Oral Practice Sessions for GRST 101 Beginning German and help organize German events on campus.
Katharina comes to us from Hamburg, Germany, where she studies British and American Studies at Hamburg University. She has been a long-time Scout and has travelled to many European countries with her group. We are excited that she brings her group leadership to Wesleyan.
Last summer, she met our five Wesleyan students who were studying at the Smith in Hamburg program and toured Blankenese, a suburb of Hamburg, with them and Professor Bork.
Katharina’s hobbies are, but not limited to, hiking, singing, and traveling. She enjoys eating Shakshuka, Lasagna, “Rote Grütze”, and “Franzbrötchen”. Some of her favorite musicians include Clueso and First Aid Kit, and Danube’s Banks.
Meet some of our German Studies Alums!
Adam Baltner ’13 I was interested in philosophy when I came to Wesleyan and figured it would be a good idea to take some German classes so that I could read important source texts in their original form. Little did I know how much that decision would influence my future. Having enjoyed my intro language classes so much, I studied abroad in the spring of my sophomore year and declared German as a second major (in addition to College of Letters). After graduating I moved to Austria to teach high-school English through a Fulbright-affiliated fellowship. Not quite ready to return to the US after that, I subsequently did a Master of Arts in German at the University of Vienna, a degree program for which the Wes German department prepared me brilliantly. I’ve since stayed in Vienna and returned to working as a high-school English teacher at a bilingual school in the city, but on the side, I’m putting my academic German skills to good use as a professional translator, mostly of texts written in the critical social sciences and humanities. If you have questions, just email me.
Caroline Adams ’19 I double-majored in German and American Studies. Some of my favorite German classes included “Forward, without Forgetting: The GDR in Literature and Film” and “Deutschland Multikulti: Expressions of Germany’s Cultural Diversity.” In the summer before my senior year, I worked as a research assistant for Professor Iris Bork-Goldfield on the topics of family history and German-Jewish migration to Brooklyn in the mid-nineteenth century. The German department’s Reihlen fund enabled me to conduct research for my senior thesis, “Imagining Indianer: Karl May’s Winnetou and Germans’ Enduring Fantasies about Native Americans.” Currently, I am enrolled in a Master program in American Studies at Brown University. Questions? Just send me an email.
Wy Ming Lin ’16 I majored in German Studies and Neuroscience and Behavior. After Wes, I wanted to do something with both majors, so what better way to combine the two than by moving to Germany and pursuing some research opportunities? That’s exactly what I did through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals where I had the chance to spend a year in Leipzig. I did an internship at the Max Planck Institute there and worked with some amazing and brilliant neuroscientists who convinced me to keep studying in Germany. Currently, I am doing my MA in Tübingen and plan on continuing on with a PhD in Germany! I’ll be happy to answer any questions just email me.
Christina Sickinger ’18 I double majored in German Studies andEconomics. I studied abroad in Berlin during the fall of my junior year. Now, I am living in New York City, where I work as a municipal credit analyst at Aberdeen Standard Investments. My team manages funds of municipal bonds, which provide local governments with money for infrastructure and other community needs. I continue to enjoy reading German literature (and drinking German beer) in my spare time. Questions, just send me an email.
Carter Dean ’18 I graduated from CSS and German Studies. German Studies, with its wide breadth of courses in film, literature and politics, compliments CSS’ focus on history and social theory with a more specific survey of German culture and history. In retrospect, minoring in German Studies also gave me the language skills crucial for my post-grad life: I’ve moved to Cologne, Germany for research and graduate school. All in all, the department’s professors are as patient as they are generous with their time and guidance. I would gladly speak to any prospective GRST students, especially if they are considering balancing an intensive program like CSS with a minor or double-major. Questions? Just email me.
Anna Apostolidis ’19 I graduated with a double major in Anthropology and German Studies and a certificate in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory. I wrote my thesis about the Humboldt-Forum, a new museum in Berlin, and the politics of remembering German colonial history through the lens of the museum. Through funding from the German Department, I was able to travel to Berlin for a month to study the museum. I am currently working at Covey Law in New York City, a firm that provides legal aid to artists and musicians who are applying for visas to work on the US. The research experience and the knowledge I gained about the arts and international cultural exchange through the combination of the German Studies and Anthropology programs helped prepare me for this exciting opportunity. I hope to eventually pursue a PhD in Anthropology. Questions? Just send me an email.
Madalene Smith-Huemer ’14 I studied German and History at Wesleyan, with a focus on European intellectual history. After graduating, I worked in the Office of External Relations at the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, DC. In May, I graduated from the M.S. in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University. Currently, I am living in San Francisco, where I work as an Executive with the global communications advisory Brunswick Group. Questions? Just send me an email.
Jack Guenther ’18 After leaving Wesleyan in Spring 2018, I entered the PhD program in history at Princeton University. The ideas for my doctoral research began in the Wesleyan German Studies Department: studying abroad in Hamburg, in fact. Those ideas took further shape in a joint history, COL, and German Studies senior thesis with Professors Bork-Goldfield and Grimmer-Solem. My research on globalization and migration takes me both Germany and elsewhere–this summer it was Buenos Aires. A year from now, I will begin teaching courses down in Princeton, and I will spend the two years thereafter in Germany and Latin America, completing my dissertation research. Questions? Just sen me an email.
LATEST NEWS: Lizzie Whitney ‘19 (GRST/COL) won a DAAD-Stipendium and will be starting at the Universität Konstanz in its MA program, Kulturelle Grundlagen Europas, in October 2019. Questions, just email her.
Click here for more information on our Alumi/ae careers.
Study abroad at our favorite program in Hamburg
“The Smith program in Hamburg was the most rewarding experience, both academically and personally, in my life. The program challenged me to engage with people and the world around me in ways I never thought imaginable. I arrived in Hamburg timid, a little anxious, and with broken German (to put it nicely) and left with a newfound confidence in myself and my language skills. The Hamburg program offers the amenities and excitement of a big city with a strong support system to help guide you along the way.” Scott Walkinshaw ’20 Questions? Send me an email.
Hannah Cooper ’20 “I’m a senior Film and German double major, and I spent my sophomore spring abroad in Hamburg. I went on the program to improve my languages skills, which definitely happened. But I also unintentionally focused my studies on a period in German history that ended up informing my thesis for the Film major. The language and history classes I took with the Smith program were great—small class sizes and really wonderful professors. The fact that the program itself was small as well meant I was able to get so much support from the administration, whether it was academic help or getting to know the city or any other advice I needed.” Questions? Send me an email.
Lily Davis ’20, I knew I always wanted to study abroad in college, but what I didn’t know was what a life-changing experience studying abroad in Hamburg would be! I am a Psychology and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies double major with a minor in German Studies. At the University of Hamburg, I was able to find courses I wanted to take in all of my academic interests, and learned so much about German culture and history. I also volunteered at an art collective in Hamburg called “Die Schlumper” that works with people with special needs, and I had so many great experiences through that. While abroad, my language skills improved exponentially, and I met amazing people from all around the world. Questions? Just email me!
Adam Rashkoff Baltner ’13 (GRST major) has been living in Vienna for the past few years. From 2013-2015, he taught English at two high schools in Vorarlberg, Austria. He then worked for another year as an English teacher at a technical school in Vienna. Since 2015, he has been in a Master’s program in the Department of German at the University of Vienna. He just finished all his course work and is currently writing his thesis. Adam recently published an article about the teacher strikes in the United States which was published on the Austrian political blog Mosaik.
Adam is married and will become a father in October.
Madalene Smith-Huemer ’14 (GRST/HIST major) has been pursuing an M.S. in Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is spending the summer working at an anti-human-trafficking NGO in Belgrade, Serbia, called Atina. Her work includes helping to teach German at the refugee camps near Belgrade and designing and writing a guidebook for Serbian employers on how to hire refugees.
Wy Ming Lin ’16 (GRST/NS&B) is currently working at a psychology research lab at New York University following his year-long stay in Cologne and Leipzig through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. Wy Ming will be moving to Germany in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in Neural and Behavioral Science at the University of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg. He is looking forward to speaking German again, enjoying some German beer, and visiting friends around the country!
Philip Katz ‘17 (GRST/HIST) is planning to apply to law school in the fall while continuing to work as a paralegal in New York.
Carter Deane ’18 (CSS major and GRST minor) will be spending this summer working at a restaurant before moving to Köln with the support of DAAD’s 10-month Research Fellowship. The latter will allow him to continue his research on the legal history and current status of Islamic religious groups that remain unacknowledged by the government of Nordrhein-Westfalen. His research will be centered around recently unsealed documents in the State archive which detail the first application for official status and rights by an Islamic religious community. This first application, like all those that followed, was ultimately rejected by the State.
Jack Guenther ’18 (GRST, HIST, COL) received high honors for his honors thesis, “‘Gateway to the World’: Hamburg and the Global German Empire.” He graduated with University Honors, received the Blankenagel Prize and Robbins Memorial Prize, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Jack has received a full scholarship for a 5-year Ph.D. program in history at Princeton University. This summer he will return to Hamburg, Germany to do more research at the Warburg Archive.
Katherine Paterson ’18 (THEA/ENVS and GRST minor) completed an honors thesis in Theater this year called (at)tend, which explores urban farming and theater as sites of coming together and building community. The thesis included a performance component which involved building a greenhouse and growing vegetables. This year, Katherine received the Outreach and Community Service Award from the Theater Department and the Sophie and Anne Reed Prize for the best poem/group of poems. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa last fall. Future plans include touring with a production of up your aesthetic in July. up your aesthetic, a former Wesleyan theater capstone project, premiered in the Theater Studio in the spring of 2017. The show is touring in upstate New York, Vermont, Philadelphia, and ending at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC. If you are in the area, please come see it! After the tour, Katherine plans to continue working in the theater, eventually making the move to New York City in the fall. Hopefully German will find a way into these plans as well!
Sophia Shoulson ’18 (GRST/COL) received high honors for her thesis, “All Tales Are True.” She received the Prentice Prize and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa last fall. After graduation, she will work at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.
Christina Sickinger ’18 (GRST/ECON) received the Scott Prize for her work in German Studies, the Plukas Teaching Apprentice Award, and she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa last fall. She is working for Aberdeen Standard Investments in Manhattan.
Chris Steidl ’18 (GRST/HIST) will be moving to Boston in September to do nonprofit work! Still up in the air is what that work will be, but he is as always optimistic and open for whatever comes.
Caroline Adams ’19 (GRST/AMST) will be living in Brooklyn this summer where she conducts research for Professor Bork about family history and German-Jewish immigration during the 19th century. She will also be delving into research for her own German Studies senior thesis about Karl May’s indianer novels and their impact on modern cultural perceptions of indigenous life in German culture. Additionally, she is taking a class at Brooklyn College and learning for the first time how to navigate the New York subway system! She is very excited to pursue this research with the generous help and support from the Helmut und Erika Reihlen fund, Professor Bork, Professor Winston and the German Studies department! She is looking forward to a wonderful, wonderful, German-centric summer!
Anna Apostolidis ’19 (GRST/ANTH) received the Blankenagel Prize and a scholarship from the GRST Helmuth and Erika Reihlen Fund to support her research in Berlin this summer. Anna will be spending four weeks in Germany’s capital where she will conduct archival research on the Humboldt-Forum’s planning, looking at correspondence and records of buildings and exhibits.
Lizzie Whitney ’19 (GRST/COL) will be spending part of her summer in Hamburg and Berlin. In preparation for her honors thesis, she will see as many plays as she can and explore how classic German texts are performed and reinterpreted in the contemporary sociopolitical climate. For her research project, she received funding from the GRST Helmuth and Erika Reihlen Fund.
Lily Davis ’20 (FGSS/PSYCH major and GRST minor) will be interning at an organization called Environment Oregon. She is working on a campaign to keep plastic out of the Pacific Ocean and keep our planet safe.
OUR STUDENTS ABROAD
Will Bellamy ’19 (GRST/ENGL), Hannah Cooper ’20 (GRST/FILM), and Scott Walkinshaw ’20 (GRST/COL) are currently studying with the Smith program in Hamburg. Karen and Julia from Smith College the Hamburg program director, Jutta Gutzeit, together with Wesleyan students Will, Hannah, and Hendrik recently visited Professor Bork in Hamburg-Blankenese. After a walking tour through this picturesque village on the Elbe River, they relaxed for a few hours on Frau Bork’s balcony with Kaffee und Kuchen. As the German semester is still in session, they are busy studying before they can ultimately relax and enjoy their well-deserved vacation.
Will is currently also collecting material for his honors thesis. He is planning to write about the Austrian writer Elfriede Gerstl (1932-2009).
Hannah has been focusing this semester has been on improving her language skills and exploring German culture and history in the decades following the Second World War. She’s looking forward to returning to Wesleyan in the fall to continue her studies.
See also Olivia Drake’s article in Wesleyan Connection, May 2, 2018.
This year we mark the 35th anniversary of Wesleyan’s sesquicentennial, on which occasion the then director of the DAAD in New York, Manfred Stassen, made Wesleyan a Partner-Universität. Manfred had taught in the College of Letters before going to the DAAD. He died in February in Bonn at the age of 78.
Lizzie Whitney (GRST/COL ’19) will lead a discussion (in German) on two pieces from Wladimir Kaminer’s Russendisko alongside a brief chapter from Hegel’s Aesthetik on “Der subjektive Humor.” I have attached the texts to this mail. Please feel free to distribute this invitation to other German speakers on campus.
Tuesday, March 6, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., in Boger Hall 113
German majors Christina Sickinger and Sophia Shoulson, and German minor Katherine Paterson were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. The initiation ceremony took place on December 6, 2017.
Kamryn Wolf ’12 Recently, Kamryn was accepted at Union Theological Seminary in New York and will be starting her graduate studies this fall.
Madalene Smith-Huemer ’14 Since graduating from Wesleyan in 2014, Maddy has lived in Washington, DC, where she works as Assistant Director for Campaigns and Stewardship at the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank that promotes constructive US engagement in global affairs. At the Atlantic Council, Maddy has led fundraising campaigns for various programs and centers, including the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Center and Middle East Center. This summer, Maddy is backpacking through Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, and Germany, where she hopes to brush up on her German. In the fall, she will enroll in the Master of Science in the Foreign Service program at Georgetown University, where she hopes to concentrate in global politics and security with a focus on immigration in Europe.
Colin O’Connor ’15 Currently, Colin is living in New York working for an environmental organization on state policy. He also runs a website on patient-centric care for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Philip Katz ’17, a German Studies and College of Social Studies double major, received the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for his excellent work in German. He wrote a senior essay entitled Germany’s Sickness Funds during and after the Nazi Seizure of Power, 1933-1938, which he presented at our annual end-of-semester party in May. This summer, he will be heading back home to Taiwan for a short while before starting work as a paralegal in New York.
Ezra Kauffman ‘17, a German Studies and History double major, received the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for his excellent work in German. He wrote a senior essay, which examines how environmentalism played a role in economic and political decisions in both Germanys during the Cold War. This summer, he will be traveling in Asia, before taking data analysis courses in New York in the early fall. In October, he will depart for Innsbruck, Austria, where he will be an assistant English teacher under the aegis of Fulbright Austria.
Toys Koomplee ’17, a German Studies and Psychology double major, will be returning to Thailand. There he will be working in the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, under the Ministry of Justice for the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok. His work involves both researching and developing the programs for rehabilitation and education for juveniles in detention centers.
Lisa Shepard ’17, a German Studies and Earth & Environmental Science double major is planning to go to Munich until the end of the summer to work as a program coordinator with Education First. Her subsequent plans involve moving to either Durham, North Carolina, or New York to spend time with family and to pursue a Master’s in Earth Science. Eventually, she hopes to find a long-term job in Germany.
Ethan Yaro ’17, a German Studies and College of Letters double major, wrote an honors thesis entitled Herder: A World that We Each Create by Ourselves. He shared his work with us at our end-of-year party in May. This summer he is working with Professor Jesse Torgerson on a data analysis project where they are mapping a Byzantine manuscript, looking at the geographical nature of the text, and ascertaining how the geography in the text changes over time.
Luisa Chan ’18, a German Studies and Anthropology double major and Lizzie Whitney ’19, a German Studies and College of Letters double major, have been studying in Hamburg, Germany, since March. They write from Germany: “…This program has been a great choice so far. It offers enough support to make taking classes in German at the University of Hamburg not only possible but enjoyable; yet we still have plenty of freedom and time to explore Hamburg and the rest of Germany on our own. The relatively small program facilitates close friendships with students from other colleges, and yet Smith has enough history in Hamburg that people at and around the university recognize the name and are willing to help us succeed.”
Carter Deane ’18, a College of Social Studies major with a German Studies minor, will spend his summer in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, to investigate the history of Islamic religious education in German schools. Carter will also look at the legal challenges Muslim communities have faced in their efforts to organize these classes, and at the recent critiques of these classes by the ascendant right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Carter received funding for his project from several sources, among them the German Studies Arthur Schultz fund.
Hannah Fritze ’18, an Astrology major and German Studies minor, will be spending this summer on campus, conducting astronomy research with professor Roy Kilgard. Her research focuses on characterizing extremely bright X-ray sources both inside and outside the Milky Way, primarily in an attempt to find black holes of a particularly interesting mass. This research will likely be the topic of her senior thesis. Later this summer Hannah will be taking a road trip to see the total solar eclipse this August.
Jack (Hans) Guenther ’18, a German Studies, College of Letters, and History triple major, will spend the end of his summer in Hamburg, Germany researching the Hamburg’s development as one of Europe’s leading port cities. It will be the topic of his honors thesis. Until then, Jack will be in his native Washington, D.C., working for the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he is helping the Endowment evaluate and award research fellowships. Two of Jack’s colleagues are native Germans, and he has been delighted to find German is the office’s unofficial second language!
Katherine Paterson ’18, a Theater and Environmental Studies double major with a German minor, received the Prentice Prize for her excellent work in German. Katherine will be spending the summer doing research for her honors project in New York City. She will be working at community gardens and gathering information and data on how they build community. She will use this information to devise a theater performance in the spring that explores community building in community gardens and in theater. Katherine is also looking into a project for the fall that will introduce the Wesleyan community to the Swiss drama Biedermann und die Brandstifter by Max Frisch.
Sophia Shoulson ’18, a German Studies and College of Letters double major will spend this summer at the Steiner Summer program in Amherst, MA, learning Yiddish language and culture. She also works as an intern at the center on the “Wexler Oral History” project. She listens to interviews in Yiddish of people from all over the world and describes the content of the interviews. Sophia received the Scott Prize this year for her excellent work in Germany.
Chris Steidl ’18, a German Studies and History double major, will spend this summer in Boston working for a non-profit organization, Community Rowing Inc. (CRI). His future intentions include traveling to Germany and teach English.
Anna Apostolidis ’19, a German Studies and Anthropology double major, sang Lieder by Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann beautifully at our end-of-semester party. She was accompanied on the piano by Olivia Backal-Balik ’20. Anna will be spending this summer in Berlin studying German at the Humboldt University and traveling through Germany.
Will Bellamy ’19, a German Studies and English double major, will be driving across country over the summer and spending some time in Los Angeles before attending a one-year study abroad program in Hamburg, Germany. Undoubtedly, he will improve his German and learn about the city and its culture there. He is hoping to get an internship in Hamburg in some field related to translation, as that is what he hopes to be doing after graduation.
Joanna Paul ’19, a Psychology and Sociology double major with a German Studies minor, will spend the first month of her summer interning at a therapeutic preschool called LEEP Forward in Chicago that helps children who experience challenges with social communication, sensory, and emotional regulation. She will spend the remainder of her summer working at their Wediko Summer Program in New Hampshire, a program for young people 9-19 years old that provides social, behavioral, and academic support. She will then be returning to campus two weeks early for her third year as an Orientation Leader, welcoming incoming students to Wesleyan.
Liz double majored in COL and German Studies. She spent her sophomore spring semester in Regensburg,
Germany. Her senior thesis was the translation of Russian émigré humorist Vladimir Kaminer’s The Trip to Trulala, which she completed under the mentorship of Professor Krishna Winston. Liz then moved to Germany, where she spent a year at Hamburg University through a DAAD Study Scholarship, before relocating to Berlin.
In 2011, Liz returned to the States to complete her Master’s in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Since then, she has dabbled in various educational pursuits (including teaching in and directing the Middlebury Interactive Summer German Academy) and committed herself to literary translation. In 2014, Liz was awarded the Gutekunst Prize for Emerging Translators through the Goethe Institute New York. In 2016, her first full-length book translation, Animal Internet by Alexander Pschera, was published with New Vessel Press. Liz is currently under contract for two titles with the MIT Press and works as Production Editor at Chooseco, publishers of the Choose Your Own Adventure children’s book series.
Hein Jeong ’16, a German Studies and Philosophy double major, wrote an honors thesis about thinking through Hegel, Marx, and Marcuse and asks, “How do we think and talk to inspire and guide actions that change our world?” The thesis is entitled, Dialectic of Thinking and Talking. Henny received the Scott Prize for her outstanding work in German Studies. In the fall, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and this summer she is spending time with her parents in California before embarking for Japan.
Miranda Haymon ’16, a German Studies and Theater double major, directed an adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five and received the Rachel Henderson Theater Prize in Directing this year. She is spending this summer in Berlin before starting the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., as their Directing Fellow.
Wy Ming Lin ’16, a German Studies and Neuroscience double major, received the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for his excellent work in German and a fellowship from the German Government to attend the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program for Young Professionals. This program pays for one year of living and educational expenses in Germany. He will most likely also do some work in the medical field.
Having completed an orientation week in Washington, D.C., in July and a follow-up in Budenheim, Germany, he is taking an intensive two-month German language course in Cologne, proceding placement in Saxony.
Arya Mistry ’16, a German Studies and Psychology double major received, the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for her excellent work in German. She has been accepted into the Master’s program at Christie’s in Art Business and Law and will be living in New York starting this summer.
Nicholas Selden ’16, completed a double major in German Studies and the College of Letters. He wrote his honors thesis on the German Expressionist artist Emil Nolde, for which he received high honors in GRST. Nick’s thesis is an examination of nationalism and the construction of German modernism in Emil Nolde’s work and the early German avant-garde between 1895 and 1912. Nick also received the Blankenagel Prize for his fine contributions to German Studies. This summer he will be spending time back home in California before deciding on next year’s plans.
Suchakrey Koomplee ’17, who has been studying with the Smith program in Hamburg since the fall of 2015, received its Manfred Bonus prize for excellent achievement in German on May 31, 2016.