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Year of Germany kicks off new program

October 3, 2013

UW-River Falls has started a new program this year that introduces students, faculty and the community to different countries.

The country that was chosen this year is Germany. The Year of Germany program takes place over the course of the academic year and encourages students to learn and appreciate other countries around the world.

Don Taylor is the team leader of the Year of Germany, as well as the chair of the coordinating committee that encourages others to propose ideas, plan events, and help advertise and publicize their ideas about the new program.

Brooke Paynter visited Germany with the Wisconsin- Hessen exchange. The Year of Germany starts a new program on campus to encourage appreciation and learning of other countries.

Brooke Paynter visited Germany with the Wisconsin- Hessen exchange. The Year of Germany starts a new program on campus to encourage appreciation and learning of other countries. (Photo courtesy Global Connections)

“One of the strategic initiatives of the University is to increase global awareness and activities, so an initiative was proposed that each year the University would choose a country to focus activities on to raise awareness among students and faculty and others about the country,” Taylor said.

There were many things to consider when choosing what country should be the first one for this new program.

“There were four things that we considered in trying to choose countries that would be most meaningful. One was how many existing resources are available to support the year of that country. Secondly, the likelihood that additional resources can be made. Third, the level of increased awareness that we felt could result in activities and the strategic importance of the country. Then the fourth area was the impact of increased awareness resulting in those activities.”

There is a wide variety of German inspired academic, social activities and events that will be held throughout the school year.

“For example, we are having a year of Germany film series. The music department has German related musical events coming up. We had the Oktoberfest, which was a social activity for the University as the kick-off event. Some of the activities are academic and some of them are fun activities and others are oriented to bring the public to campus,” Taylor said.

Leah Dykhoff, a senior at UWRF, studied abroad in Europe last year and visited four German cities. She was excited that Germany was chosen to be this year’s country because she had a positive and life changing experience there.

“I think a lot of Americans are still stuck on World War II and all that happened during that time. Our culture and school system tends to focus on that dimension of Germany, but the country is much more than the Holocaust and World War II. It is where the bulk of Wisconsin and Minnesota residents emigrated from.”

Linda Heber is a German exchange student from Schmalkalden, Germany. Heber came to UWRF at the end of August, and will be here until the end of fall semester. So far, her experience has been positive, and she is happy with her choice to come here.

“I like the classes here. It is very different from studying in Germany,” Heber said.

Dykhoff and Heber plan on attending the numerous German events that the University is putting on this year, and are excited to learn more about the differences and similarities between America and Germany.

Both students and faculty can propose different German activities and events that they would be interested in seeing on campus this year. Visit the Year of Germany page on the UWRF website to submit ideas and to learn more about the program.

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