Heidelberg invited SIUE chair to university

Belinda Carstens-Wickham, professor of foreign languages and literature and chair of that department, was invited to the University of Heidelberg, Germany, this past summer. The trip, all expenses paid by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), was a weeklong excursion sponsored by that university.

Carstens-Wickham with group of international alumni. Photo courtesy of Castens-Wickham.

The trip included a week of classes and seminars, site visits, and communication with other international alumni. Carstens-Wickham attended seminars on teaching German culture using German music and pop music.

Carstens-Wickham also attended a seminar on using film to present cultural issues, while, at the same time, working on listening comprehension and grammar.

A trip to the Duden Publishing House was one site visit that Carstens-Wickham found unique. The publishing house is famous for dictionaries and books on German language and its correct usage, according to Carstens-Wickham.

The University if Heidelberg sent out application invitations to alumni as part of a new alumni outreach program. Other countries represented included Georgia, Poland, Egypt, Romania, Cameroon and the Russian Federation.

“Heidelberg Alumni International invites international alumni who have specialized in teaching German at universities throughout the world to participate in a forum investigating creative ways of teaching German,” read the invitation that Carstens-Wickham received.

She was one of more than 100 U.S. alumni to receive an invitation. The application process was competitive. Carstens-Wickham was one of three professors selected to attend from the United States. According to Carstens-Wickham, the university never really reached out to alumni. The new system being used is based on American university alumni outreach programs.

Carstens-Wickham stated the most useful part of the trip was getting to meet the people at the University of Heidelberg who are responsible for setting up the student exchange programs. “Now, there is a personal contact. I can put a face with the name,” Carstens-Wickham stated.

Carstens-Wickham also had an opportunity to meet with several professors from Italy. She spoke with them about future collaborative programs.

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