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Languages Matter: Why we learn German

Submitted by Michael Neininger on February 10, 2017 - 9:35am
Ben Green
Ben Green, German 101

Benjamin Green, History Major:

"I decided to learn German for a variety of reasons. In large part, the decision was made out of respect and admiration for German culture, history, and people. While in high school, we had far more German students on exchange with us than from any other nation. A few became my friends, and remain so to this day. They were all curious, intelligent, and spoke English at a high level. While a student at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, I traveled to Germany three times and visited the cities of Hamburg, Cologne, Dortmund, Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden and München. Around half the time I was with German friends, while the rest of the time I traveled solo. One particular memory that stands out was a trip on an express train from Hamburg to Cologne. Across from me was a young woman, a resident of the affordable city of Duisburg, and a recent graduate in political science. We spoke for hours, and compared the divisions between the south and north in the United States with the dynamic between Bavaria and the rest of Germany. I told her about the first time I had a German friend, Emilie, over at my home near Seattle; I had put together a surprise birthday party for her…unfortunately, before Emilie’s actual birthday. She didn’t mind, but when I brought her home and told her father, he said to me: “My sister died after celebrating her birthday early”, with a serious look on his face. The young woman chatting with me, breaking with traditional German behavior on trains, lifted her head back and let out a giant laugh. As you can see, I have been fond of Germany for a long time. Now I have the honor of learning a little bit of the German language, so that after so many years of forcing my German friends to speak in my language, maybe now I can converse in theirs."