Middlebury Newsletter School in Germany

Mainz and Berlin

by Heike Fahrenberg
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Vom Prinzip des Persönlichen: Mainz-Middlebury. Article in JGu’s Magazine for Lehre und Studium

Dear friends of the School in Germany,

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this  Article from JGu’s Magazine  for ‘Lehre und Studium’ (LuSt) showcasing the relationship between Middlebury and JGu that was established 55 years ago.  Source of the article: LuST – Magazin zu Lehre und Studium Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz“ (Ausgabe 4/2014) Should you be interested in a copy of the whole magazine, or other JGu-publications, don’t hesitate to let me know.

If you’re now getting really home-sick for Mainz, here’s a student’s current glance at what it means to study in Mainz today. For those of you who have been here a while ago or plan to study with us, this short video proves how constant innovation and change have contributed and will contribute JGu’s continued attraction for students all over the world and from all academic fields.

Enjoy –  and yes – if you cannot study with us, at least do come visit — Mainz is waiting for you!

Sunny Greetings from the German City of Science (2011) and a proud member of Wine Capitals of the world —




by Heike Fahrenberg
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Student Post of the Month

Experiential Architecture: The Holocaust Memorial, by Irene Gonzalez, UG, program participant (with permission by the author)

One of the good things of having friends and family visiting in Berlin is that I get to go back to those “touristic sites” which I otherwise would not have visited so many times. One of these typical sites is the Holocaust Memorial and over my visits, I have each time perceived something new or have had a new idea about the place.

Some of the visitors that I had did not like this place; they found it excessively big and depressing. Others liked it, and thought that it was an important reminder of a tragedy in world history that should be avoided. I think these opinions have a lot to do with the country that they come from and how this idea of “dealing with the past/ dealing with our mistakes” is handled.

In my opinion the importance of the Holocaust Memorial as a site is not about liking it or not, it is about the message that we get from it. Without having read anything about the original intentions of the architect/artist with this memorial, here are some of my perceptions about this site in the center of Berlin:

You start from the outside, looking over the structure and trying to make sense out of what you see. The first reactions are always questions: Are these graves? Anonymous graves? Why are some of them bigger than others? Why is it all grey? Is the number of graves symbolic? What am I supposed to see in it?

I believe the real experience starts when you walk into the structure, in between the blocs. I find in this walk a symbolism related to what living under an authoritarian regime or a fascist ideology such as that of the Nazi time would be like: at first you can look over the blocs, you think to be controlling the situation, you think to know what is happening around you. Inevitably, as you walk in, the height of the blocs starts rising and before you realize it, you cannot see anything around you, but grey walls and the narrow walkways around you. This as a symbol of the Nazi time could mean how people thought they knew what was happening around them, they felt in control of their lives, they thought to had a full view of the situation … and without realizing they were part of a regime in which they couldn’t really see or understand what was happening around them.

I find another symbolism when I think to be alone walking through this structure.  Suddenly, when the paths of these blocs cross, I find someone. While being in between these blocs we cannot see if there is someone on the other side, or if something is happening to them. We might be able to hear something, but it sounds too far away as to be happening right next to us. In this line of though, I have also heard many people who lived during Hitler’s time who say to have not known what was happening for a very long time. Not even if it had to do with their neighbor or just people outside of the city. Also the idea that the paths of many people crossed during this time, maybe coming together to help each other but also being traitors.

One of the characteristics of these blocs that I always realize other than it’s gray color and cold touch, is that they are not parallel to each other, but tilted in different directions. To me, that shows how this period of history and these ideologies affected people regardless of their identity and how they were “trapped” anchored in this structure, even if they tried to take any other direction.

The same happens with the floor: it is not just a flat surface, but one with slopes and ups and downs. Although we may want to walk forward, look forward, and think that the end will be there soon, the floor may bring us lower down than what we want; further away from the piece of sky above our heads, which is the only freedom that we see.

I don’t know if with these ideas I am taking too far the symbolism of this site, but I guess that with any piece of art, their value is really what they mean to us. These previously explained feelings and thoughts, are my experience of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

by Heike Fahrenberg
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Other bits of news

Interview in JGu’s Magazine on Lehre and Studium

I was honored to be invited to an interview on Middlebury’s partnership with Johannes Gutenberg Universität and joined Prof. Hornung (American Studies) to talk about the significance exchange programs have for JGu. The interview should appear in the new Lehre und Studium-Magazine shortly.

ACTFL, Texas, November 2014

I’m happy to let you know that ACTFL accepted a proposal of my colleague Sanae Eda (Director of the School in Japan) and myself for this year’s ACTFL-Conference in Texas. If any of you should be there, please let me know — it would be great to meet up and talk about old times or new times — who knows!

We’ll be giving a workshop on “Culture and Language Teaching: Integrated Portfolios in Japan and Germany” — so….

I hope to see you in Texas (or Mainz — or Berlin) soon!

Take care — and I’ll be back with more news on how our students liked their internships this semester.

All the best from the School in Germany –


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