Ream, of Washington Court House, Ohio, received a scholarship to participate in the German Graduate School Experience in Philadelphia from Aug. 11-18. The institution has the oldest academic German studies program in North America.
Professors throughout the United States nominated their best students studying German. Nominees included students not only from the last academic year, but also students from the past 20 years, according to Simon Richter, associate professor and chair of German languages and literatures at the University of Pennsylvania. Of the 70 candidates, Ream was one of 14 chosen to be a part of the prestigious program, which selects top students who seek to continue their education at the graduate level.
“Nicole is among an elite group of students,” said Tim Bennett, associate professor of languages and Ream’s adviser.
Ream, a religion and German double major, said she is nervous, but very excited about the experience. The opportunity to apply for the program emerged when David Barry, assistant professor of languages, gave Ream an application with a description of the program. She admits to an initial hesitation, knowing the esteemed and exclusive nature of the Ivy League institution. Though t he limited selectivity of the program may have seemed daunting to her, she concluded, “The worst that can happen is that I don’t get it.”
Weeks later, after eating Chinese food, a fortune cookie revealed, “Good news in the near future.” The prediction came true, and Ream was notified of her acceptance.
“I was absolutely amazed,” she said. “I’m pretty sure that for the rest of that day I was just floating around campus with a grin on my face.”
Students participating in the program will be exposed to what German graduate courses are like as they engage in a weeklong intensive curriculum. The focus will be on the cultural transformation of the German Democratic Republic with particular attention to the city of Wittenberg, Germany, Wittenberg University’s Sister City through Springfield’s Sister City program.
“I’m really interested in German politics, both before and after reunification, and I was especially interested when [the application] said the focus of the study was going to be Lutherstadt Wittenberg,” Ream said.
Each student will be mailed a packet of readings to prepare for the program. After studying in Lutherstadt last year, Ream already has firsthand knowledge of the city’s culture and history, as well as German politics and economics from her time in Freiburg. Still, Ream is getting ready for the workload.
“In order to prepare myself for the week, I’ve been keeping up on my German reading, both of German literature and daily news,” she said.
While in Philadelphia, students will also learn about Germany’s extensive, multi-faceted history, including Martin Luther and the Reformation, prominent Wittenberg pastor Friedrich Schorlemmer and the Wende, as well as Lucas Cranach, the Bauhaus school and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Professors from the department of Germanic languages and literatures will lead discussion sessions, and students will partake in various activities such as watching films, reading short stories, analyzing paintings and buildings, and discussing manifestos and social critique—all of which Ream looks forward to with eagerness and enthusiasm.
“There are two things I’m looking forward to,” she said. “Getting to see Philadelphia, and getting a taste of what a graduate program in German is like.”
— Sarah Gearhart '06
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