||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
New Study Abroad Program|
Offered in Germany
MAILED: Nov. 5, 1998|
Students interested in studying the German language and culture have a new opportunity available to them through the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Center for International Education.
A dozen UW-Eau Claire students will spend the spring semester studying at the Institute for German Language and Culture at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. The program replaces UW-Eau Claire's study abroad program in Rosenheim, Germany.
"I feel this program has the potential to add to UW-Eau Claire's reputation as a university that is well connected to the cultural hot spots in the world," said Johannes Strohschänk, a UW-Eau Claire associate professor of foreign languages who proposed the new program. In addition to a stellar curriculum at the Institute, faculty members there are working closely with UW-Eau Claire German faculty to help create additional opportunities for participating students, said Cheryl Lochner-Wright, study abroad coordinator.
For example, UW-Eau Claire students will participate in a service-learning project as part of a class. That might mean students volunteer in a woman's shelter, at a youth center or in a kindergarten classroom, she said, noting students also can complete capstone projects during their time abroad.
"We're getting in on the ground floor," Lochner-Wright said, referring to the newness of the Institute. "As a result, we're getting a program that is tailor made for our students."
Students will go to class in the university's main academic building that dates back to 1502, Lochner-Wright said, adding that it's the same building where Martin Luther did most of his teaching. It's set on a main street, just blocks from the city center, she said.
Because of Wittenberg's geographic location (just south of Berlin), students will see first-hand the opportunities and difficulties that the region has dealt with since the reunification, Lochner-Wright said. Wittenberg was dubbed an industrial center for years, but has since publicly reclaimed its historic tradition as an intellectual center, she said.
"As a result, there is a lot of optimism and enthusiasm in the city," Lochner-Wright said. "There is a real energy in the town that is fun to see and our students will be able to take advantage of it. People are anxious to meet them, talk to them and to have them participate in community events."
Students will go to Germany in January and return in late April. The program is structured in two six-week sessions, with a one-week break in between. Five trips to major cities are planned as part of the program. Students will live with a different German family during each of the two sessions, allowing them to see how two different families live, Lochner-Wright said.
"There are many interested host families," Strohschänk said. "These families are very excited that they can finally look West and not only East. They are very open to Americans."
Strohschänk said the Wittenberg program will offer more to students in the way of culture experiences than previous programs that were located in the southern part of Germany.
"This will offer a more authentic German experience in terms of history and culture," Strohschänk said. "The region lacks the excessive commercialism of the south. And the people have preserved more of their humanity and hospitality."
UW-Eau Claire also offers a study abroad experience in Kiel, Germany. In that program, students are immersed in a traditional university setting, thus they need to have extensive German language skills, Lochner-Wright said. In the Wittenberg program, students with intermediate university German skills can participate, improving their language skills and learning about the culture, she said, noting that Wittenberg organizers are committed to helping UW-Eau Claire students understand the social evolution that is taking place in that region.
"This area has fewer resources than other parts of Germany but a strong sense of where they come from," Lochner-Wright said. "They want the students to learn and understand the good things that are happening but also to understand the struggles such as high unemployment rates."
The program also will offer new opportunities for UW-Eau Claire faculty, Strohschänk said. Three research centers philosophy and religious studies, social work and American studies all are located within the same building where students will take classes, he said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 5, 1998