This article is part of How I Spent My Summer, a series of articles showcasing what students got up to over the past few months — from work-intergrated learning to mini-courses and more. Find more stories in the series at the bottom of this article.
The first time Delphi Le Blanc visited Germany she was 11 years old, on vacation with her family, and had no knowledge of the German language and culture. Now a fourth-year Dalhousie student doing a BA with double major in Environment, Sustainability & Society (ESS) and German, Delphi returned to Germany in May as part of a study abroad program.
This time, she felt more confident and prepared to travel around freely.
“It was really fascinating to move around a new city but still know what was going on,” says Delphi. “It felt so surreal to use skills I learned while doing sketches with my peers in class . . . ordering coffee was a breeze!”
Delphi traveled to Berlin to participate in “Memory Politics, Place: Berlin’s 20th Century” — a month-long residency course coordinated by the University of King’s College Contemporary Studies program (cross-listed with the German department at Dal). Delphi and her classmates studied and discussed numerous topics including public history, memory, and memorials.
“I was able to learn not only from the museums, but also from my classmates and professors,” says Delphi, who is from Ottawa, Ont. “I am very interested in public history and heritage studies so this course was a perfect combination of my passions.”
Delphi was a recipient of last year’s Marjorie Mader Study Abroad Award, which provides financial support to students who have demonstrated academic excellence, volunteerism, and socially-conscious work; are working towards a Dalhousie German degree; and will participate in a departmentally-approved international programme by taking courses in a German speaking country.
Delphi notes that even though it is not necessary to know how to speak the language to enjoy travelling in Germany, it did allow her to better navigate the country and understand cultural norms.
“I definitely had a more solid sense of belonging and didn’t feel confined to a ‘tourist’ label,” she explains. “Since I felt at ease language-wise, I got to focus on other differences.”
An unexpected passion
Delphi was selected to be the 2023-24 DAAD Young Ambassador for Dalhousie. The DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst), which in English is the German Academic Exchange Service, is a German initiative to promote international academic cooperation and exchange. The Young Ambassador Program is a two-semester volunteer opportunity for undergraduate students from North America who recently studied in Germany to promote, with help from DAAD, study and research in Germany at their home universities and colleges. They help to inspire their fellow students through giving them guidance on how to enjoy and make use of their own stay in Germany.
In August, Delphi went to New York to visit the DAAD USA regional office for orientation and training. There, she met her fellow Young Ambassadors from across Canada and the states that she will remain connected with throughout the year.
“It was absolutely incredible to meet other students from a wide range of subjects and hear about their experiences in Germany,” says Delphi. “I got to connect with the people who work at the DAAD and a whole new door of opportunities was opened for me . . . Keep your eyes open for events I will be hosting over the year!”
Delphi had no initial intention to pursue advanced studies in German, but Dalhousie’s language course requirement to complete a BA ended up introducing her to a passion she didn’t even know she had.
“I came to Dalhousie for the ESS program because studying sustainability is something I am incredibly interested in,” she says. “I took German in my first year as the language requirement and absolutely fell in love with learning [the language]. The German Department has been incredibly helpful in opening my eyes into a whole new type of learning. I later realized that the ESS program requires students to do a double major. Making my second major German was a very easy decision to make!”
After she finishes at Dal, Delphi hopes to combine her two majors and return to Germany for graduate studies.
“I want to continue studying sustainability and focus on museum spaces. Germany has thousands of museums, so I feel very lucky to have the option to learn there.”
Also in this series:
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