EWU to host Shaping Germany Campus Week with immigration integration focus

The 25th anniversary of the EWU-University of Passau exchange program will also be celebrated


Courtesy of Jody Stewart-Strobelt

The German program is celebrating its 25-year anniversary of the EWU-University of Passau exchange program as well as introducing Shaping German Campus Week. The photo above was taken in Passau, Germany and was submitted by Jody Stewart-Strobelt, a German senior lecturer and the EWU-Passau exchange program coordinator.

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

EWU prepares to embrace Germany beyond brats, beers and lederhosens by celebrating its 25th anniversary of the EWU-University of Passau exchange program and introducing Shaping Germany Campus Week.

This event will take place from Nov. 5 – 9. EWU has a study abroad exchange program in conjunction with the University of Passau in Passau, Germany. Shaping Germany Campus Week is brought to campus in honor of The Year of German-American Friendship initiative sponsored by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and EWU’s College of Art, Letters and Education.

Students who participate in the academic exchange program between EWU and the University of Passau spend a year attending college abroad. The students from these universities do this through a home-tuition agreement. European students receive a tuition waiver at EWU and American students receive a housing stipend at the University of Passau to make it more affordable and attractive for both students.

German historian Ann Le Bar came to work for the EWU history department in 1993. She quickly became the EWU-Passau exchange program coordinator up until 2002. Le Bar describes the program as one of the “most demanding programs” because many study abroad programs aren’t as extensive as this one.

An EWU senior studying economics and minoring in German, Sean Hamilton completed the year-long program in Passau last year.

“Just in general, studying abroad is one hundred percent worth it,” Hamilton said. “Especially in America it’s not normal. People don’t think about it. A lot of people were like ‘Well why are you going to Germany?’ […] and it’s more of a question of why not. There’s so many things that you can learn over there about the world and yourself.”

German senior lecturer and current EWU-Passau exchange program coordinator at EWU Jody Stewart-Strobelt took over for Le Bar in 2002. Upon becoming the program coordinator, Stewart-Strobelt added a four-week program in the summer for EWU students at Passau.

Stewart-Strobelt started the summer program because “not all students can take a whole year and study abroad.”

“I took the first group over in the summer of 2016 and so far we’ve taken three groups over in the summer,” Stewart-Strobelt said. “I’ve had 27 students altogether who have participated in the summer program.”

Unlike the year-long program, where students take various classes involving their majors on top of learning German in Passau, the four-week program focuses on learning the German language.

An EWU senior majoring in international studies and minoring in German, Michael Smith recalls the four-week program as “definitely a big confidence booster.”

Smith experienced this firsthand by practicing the language during day-to-day activities including giving an Austrian Uber driver directions to the train station successfully while there.

“There’s no way to learn a language like immersion,” Smith said. “Especially being in the culture, being in the country, being around and hearing German everyday and everywhere, that really encourages you to learn and it also makes you more interested in the language.”

The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany is funding a “comprehensive and collaborative initiative,” according to the Wunderbar Together website.

The initiative, called “Deutschlandjahr USA” or The Year of German-American Friendship uses the slogan, “Wunderbar Together” which means Wonderful Together. According to Stewart-Strobelt, EWU received a message from the German Embassy to apply for the funding and contribute through Shaping Germany Campus Week.

The German Embassy sent Stewart-Strobelt a suggestion of topics to choose from and incorporate into Shaping Germany Campus Week. Stewart-Strobelt, along with EWU professor of philosophy Kevin Decker, decided to focus on integrating immigrants. They chose this initiative because Strobelt-Stewart says it’s “something that occupies the mind of our country right now and that Germany has been on the world stage with all the immigrants it’s taken in.”

“I thought it would be really nice for us to look at Germany in a deeper way, because it’s not just interesting for language, but it should be interesting to international affair students, it should be interesting to people who care about diversity,” Stewart-Strobelt said. “So, I applied and we were lucky enough to get the funding.”

Shaping Germany Campus Week will host different activities through the week including an exhibit in the library called, “Immigrant Voices,” with immigrant stories and informative posters about German society regarding the influx of immigrants.

On Monday, Nov. 5 the exhibit will be introduced by an opening ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Professor Karsten Fitz, the counterpart of the exchange program, will talk on Nov. 5 in Tawanka 215 from 3-5 p.m.

On Nov. 6 students will speak about their experiences in the exchange program from 1-2 p.m. in Patterson 140. Later that day will be a film screening, related to Germany and immigration, as all the films that week will be, in Patterson 126 from 2-5 p.m.

On Nov. 7 German Embassy Representative Claudia Schneider will speak from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Patterson 128. On that same day at 3-5 p.m. in Tawanka 215 will be a panel discussion regarding Germany and immigration.

A Kaffeeklastch—a social gathering that consists of conversation, German food and music—will be hosted by the German Club on Nov. 8 from 12-1 p.m. in Hargreaves 103. A film screening will be that day from 2-5 p.m. in Patterson 126.

Another Kaffeeklastch will on Nov. 9 from 12-1 p.m. in Hargreaves 103. That day a film screening will be in Patterson 126 from 1-4 p.m.

Stewart-Strobelt says the EWU-Passau 25th anniversary celebration fits into Shaping Germany Campus Week because it is “Wunderbar Together (Wonderful Together) and we’re showing our own microcosm of how we (United States and Germany) work together” even though the event is outside of what the German Embassy is sponsoring for German Campus Week.

For more information on Shaping Germany Campus Week, contact Stewart-Strobelt by email at [email protected] and on the EWU-Passau exchange program  contact Stewart-Strobelt or Le Bar at [email protected]. To find out more about The German-American Year of Friendship refer to the Wunderbar Together website.