Internship at Schulzentrum Walle

For my internship in Bremen, I worked with the Schulzentrum Walle, a high school in an area of the city. For this project, I teamed up with a student who had been a teaching assistant at Dickinson as well as many student teachers.

In the school in Walle, my job was to assist a student teacher who was currently enrolled in the University of Bremen. Together, we helped students who struggled with writing. In our group were around six boys, many of whom spoke German as a second language. Many nationalities were represented in our group, including German, Turkish, Russian, and Sri Lankan. As I (an American) also spoke German as a second language, I got to be a student and a teaching assistant at the same time! Together, the student teacher and I helped the students prepare for their end of year tests and their Abitur (the German equivalent of the SATs/final exams of high school to determine placement into universities.) The specific area of focus for our group involved Erörterung or forming cohesive arguments. Together, we discussed the difference between premise, thesis, fact, opinion, and conclusion. The students in the group read articles with topics such as “The Internet has an Overall Negative Effect on Humans” or “European Union Inaction Toward Refugees is Purposeful Murder.” From these articles, the teacher and I helped the students pick out pro- and counterarguments from these academic papers and to argue for one side or the other. This was practice that would then come in handy for their upcoming exams.

The students were very kind to me and asked me many questions about America. One student called me “American Boy!” whenever he saw me in the hallways. Another student even asked me questions in English after one session, because he had to interview a visitor to Germany for a class project.

Ezra Sassaman

Internship at the Heiner Müller Society


Rachel (left) and Madison

For the month of February I was an intern along with Madison Alley at the Internationale Heiner-Müller-Gesellschaft, or the International Heiner Müller Society, of which our Academic Director, Dr. Janine Ludwig, is the Chair of the Board of Directors. The IHMG is a non-profit literary society that constantly works to preserve and further the works of Heiner Müller and the discussions surrounding his life and plays. The society focuses on a wide range of work related  to Müller  including the spreading of his work internationally, initiating translations, following the conversations about his work, initiating projects and documentations, as well as hosting colloquiums and workshops about Müller. Recently, the IHMG organized and hosted a conference in Berlin about Müller’s continued relevance in contemporary society which the full year Dickinson in Bremen students attended, ( including myself. Heiner Müller is considered one of the most important German playwrights of the second half of the 20th century.

image[1]For the first three weeks of the internship Madison and I worked together on the composition of IHMG’s first newsletter of the year and then completed a multitude of translations including the newsletter, biographies of the members of IHMG and the descriptions of the past Müller Monday events, an event that IHMG hosts each month in cooperation with the Literaturforum at the Brechthaus. As we completed these translations we got a better idea of both the work that IHMG does and the members of the society. Finally, at the end of the month, we put this information to use when we traveled to Berlin for a week to work alongside the Chief Executive of the IHMG, Anja Quickert. For this week we worked on more translations, assisted with the preparation and running of February’s Müller Monday panel discussion, and discovered the city of Berlin as we handed out hundreds of flyers about IHMG’s events and the society in general.

image[2]This internship was great for me simply because it helped improve both my knowledge of German and even English through the work with translation. Working with IHMG was, however, most rewarding, because of the opportunity it gave me to work closely with the head of a non-profit organization. After Dickinson I hope to go into the non-profit sector and work to advance literacy around the world. So the short introduction I got in the inner workings of IHMG as well as receiving practice both networking for the society and thanking the donors are invaluable moments for me. I look forward to taking my experience at IHMG and applying it to my work post Dickinson. >Rachel Schilling<

BIZ Internship

by Nicole Couturiaux

Greetings from Bremen! – more specifically, from my desk at the Bremer Informationszentrum für Menschenrechte und Entwicklung (Bremen Information Center for Human Rights and Development, or simply “biz”).

I’m into the homestretch of my last week of a 6 week internship at biz. Technically it’s Semesterferien (“semester break”) for the German university system, but this month and a half has been anything but a vacation for me. From 10am-6pm Monday through Friday I work to further education in sustainable development (meaning the bettering of both human lives and the environment through the institution of respectful, healthy, and justly-profitable social and business practices). biz is an NGO that supports local interest groups, holds seminars and lectures, designs and distributes museum exhibitions, organizes speakers to give interactive presentations in local schools, and maintains a library specific to research and pedagogic work in human rights and development issues.

Interning in a foreign country comes with a unique set of challenges. My responsibilities range from those involving complex skills, like helping teachers and students find research materials in our library, translating the biz website from German into English, and sitting in on planning committee meetings for upcoming sustainable development events in Bremen to more traditional “intern”-labeled assignments like making photo copies, answering the telephone, and mailing programs and flyers to the community. Acting as a librarian for, say, university faculty researching blue jean manufacturing processes and implications in China is tough, but, as I’ve learned, even a mundane task like data entry carries new weight and offers unexpected learning opportunities in a second language. In both situations, I was held accountable for accurate comprehension and articulation. And in both I was pulled outside of my comfort zone, but eventually met with success – rewarded with new vocabulary words and a sense of confidence.

Working with German colleagues has also been incredibly valuable. From the start I was much more hesitant to interact with these new acquaintances then my vocal, outgoing self has ever been. My coworkers, however, were understanding and very welcoming, so eventually I figured out biz’s office norms – the tone used between colleagues, team meetings, packing organic lunches, standard dress (this level of casual actually took me some time to get in synch with), etc. – and adjusted to my environment. It does help that everyone in the office is sensitive to cultural differences, as they work for a human rights organization, after all! Though they are interested in hearing my American interpretations of things, their support of my German is also hugely appreciated. In addition to an increase in my vocabulary, I have noticed my sentences flowing more smoothly and me incorporating more creative structures and idioms. Even my thoughts are thought more frequently in German.

The biggest impact of my coworkers on me is their enthusiasm in explaining their individual projects to me and encouraging me to investigate these topics with further research in our library. In this way I have learned so much about human rights and environmental issues – issues that transcend cultures – and how educational organizations like biz can effect changes in attitudes that in turn lead to definite changes in government and business policies. So, all in all, it looks like I had a pretty worthwhile Semesterferien.

Internship at Psychotherapeutic Children’s Clinic

by Kelsey Power

For the last few weeks, I have been interning at a child psychology clinic associated with the University of Bremen. It is run by one of the main child psych professors at the University, Frau Prof. Dr. Petermann. Many of her students do internships with her before they graduate; this is Pflicht, or a requirement, of German students.

Anyhow, I had sent out a resume and information about myself thinking “oh, this is a long shot” because I knew there was something else that I wanted to do with Psych outside of taking classes. A month went by, and I heard no reply, so I assumed that my application had been denied; however, three days later, I received a call from Dr. Petermann’s secretary to come in for an interview. Part of me wanted to pretend I never received the call because it meant that I had to actually put myself out there and use my German in a scary, real-life job-like atmosphere. Instead, I faced my fears and went in for the interview. At the interview table sat Dr. Petermann and her three Psychologists in the clinic. THREE NATIVE GERMAN SPEAKERS who were going to interview me…. I almost peed in my pants. Instead, I said to myself “well, Kels. Here goes nothing”. They kept smiles on their faces, even though I knew my German wasn’t perfect. And, everything worked out.

On Mondays and Thursdays, I get to watch therapy sessions and diagnostic sessions for children throughout the city; they are from 3-10 normally and have social issues or cognitive impairments. The other students/ interns are very welcoming, and they let me shadow them on serious assignments. It has been a great experience to see 1) a real life setting in which Psychology is used and 2) to put my German in a job context. I am really quite glad I didn’t run away from this opportunity, but I think after this year abroad, one gets used to being outside of their comfort zone. And sometimes, it is a great place to be.