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Ingeborg Goessl scholarship helps students learn cultural competency

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Greta Schmitt (‘17), Julia Curtis (‘17), Delaney Schurer (‘18), Logan Ardovino (‘17), Laura Kalsow (‘17) at a beer garden in Munich, Germany.

Greta Schmitt (‘17), Julia Curtis (‘17), Delaney Schurer (‘18), Logan Ardovino (‘17), Laura Kalsow (‘17) at a beer garden in Munich, Germany.

Photo courtesy of Delaney Schurer (‘18)

Photo courtesy of Delaney Schurer (‘18)

Greta Schmitt (‘17), Julia Curtis (‘17), Delaney Schurer (‘18), Logan Ardovino (‘17), Laura Kalsow (‘17) at a beer garden in Munich, Germany.

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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Study abroad experiences are very helpful in bursting our cultural bubbles. However, access to these experiences is not always easily accessible. Scholarships are often key to providing students with these experiential learning opportunities. Since 2010, the Ingeborg Goessl Study Abroad Scholarship has supported students who wish to study abroad, particularly those who participate in the Münster semester program hosted by the German department.

Recipients of the Ingeborg Goessl Study Abroad Scholarship are usually participants in the Münster semester program one of the oldest study abroad programs offered by Luther. The program is open to students with varying amounts of German language knowledge and is offered during the spring semester of even-numbered years.

The scholarship is named after alum Dr. Ingeborg Goessl (‘60). Goessl, a retired German professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, says she provides funds for this scholarship because she believes in the long lasting, positive impact studying abroad can have on a student.

“After teaching German since receiving my graduate degree and particularly through working with foreign language student teachers, I have always observed how much more a person [or] teacher who has lived abroad can bring to a classroom or to jobs,” Gossel said. “So often graduates have told me how during job interviews the questions focused on those experiences. Study abroad gives most people a broader perspective on life.”

Professor of German Sören Steding is the director of the Münster semester. Student accessibility to the program is important to him.

“Our goal is to provide funds for everyone that wants to go because we strongly believe in the transforming experience of going abroad,” Steding said.

During their time in Münster, students take four courses led by Luther faculty, two of which are German language courses. The other two include a history course on the Reformation and a Paideia II course on memorialization, which is closely connected to the class trips students take during the program.

“We look at how the Holocaust and the Nazi regime are being remembered in Germany,” Steding said. “We always go to Berlin, Munich, and the third trip is usually to a former East German city or to Hamburg. At all these places, we are looking at monuments or institutions of Jewish culture or remembrance, like museums and memorials.”

According to Münster attendee Delaney Schurer (‘18), these trips allowed her to appreciate the history of the sites they visited and apply that knowledge to current issues in the United States.

“You’re learning about it while you’re also going to visit [these places], so you have so much more context [for] why they were built,” Schurer said. “It just broadens your knowledge of what a memorial is, especially now in such controversial times in the U.S. about memorials.”

In addition to taking courses, students live with German host families and have time to travel independently around the country. According to Münster student Sam Mitchell (‘18), developing a close relationship with her host family was both fun and beneficial in building her German speaking skills. 

“My host family was absolutely hilarious, and we had fun speaking what we would call ‘Denglish,’ or Deutsch-English,” Mitchell said. “It was a broken language, but I definitely noticed a higher retention rate with German when living with my family.”

Steding said that while he wants students to strengthen their knowledge of the German language, he also hopes that formative self-reflection will take place within the students.

“As a language teacher, I want them to increase their language abilities,” Steding said. “But for me, the most important part is that people notice that living within a different culture is rewarding in and of itself. By doing this, you reflect on your own culture and own identity and notice that there are a lot of elements by which you define yourself [that] you are not necessarily so aware of [and] you always take as a given.”

Steding also said he hopes that upon self-reflection, students will begin to look beyond the culture they have grown accustomed to and embrace other cultures.

“To be aware of how your own identity is to a certain degree constructed by your cultural surroundings. Through the means of study abroad, we get less afraid of the other,” Steding said.

The next Münster semester will be early February to May of 2018.

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