Ten education students and two professors from the University of Nebraska at Kearney traveled to Rostock, Germany, May 13-27, 2003, to experience a world they aren’t exactly used to and to learn from the different but effective teaching techniques in the German schools.
“We wanted these student to have a multicultural experience that is feasible where communication in English is possible,” said Ken Mumm, teacher education lecturer. “The goal of this trip was to broaden the students’ perspectives in the idea of schooling and to understand that students are the same and different worldwide.”
“Another main purpose was to expand the relationship that UNK has with Rostock University,” said Dennis Potthoff, teacher education chair. “This is the first time that UNK education majors traveled to Rostock. This summer, the third group of Rostock students is on our campus. It is great to have the road going both ways.”
The exchange first began after Dr. Marilyn Hadley, dean of the college of education, visited Rostock and saw that German students are required to spend three months outside of Germany when majoring to become teachers of English or other subjects. In the summer of 2001, students from Germany arrived in mid-July to October to visit the schools in Kearney and surrounding area. After the second year of the exchange, faculty in Germany and UNK discussed the possibility of UNK Education students visiting Rostock.
“We first offered this trip so UNK education students would be able to use this experience while furthering their education and teaching,” said Mumm. “We wanted to have the students visit classrooms with eyes wide open and to be aware of students not like us and who don’t know English. We wanted them to see that the goal of education is the same even though the classroom teaching techniques and methodologies are different. I enjoyed watching our students grow throughout this experience and begin to see a different view of the world.”
“I decided to go on the trip to Rostock because it might be the only time in my life that I will get to experience another culture in a first-hand setting,” said Matt Breitkreutz, a junior from Ord majoring in Middle Grades Education with endorsements in math, science and social studies. “The biggest thing I took away from the trip is a better understanding of how difficult it must be to have dyslexia or other reading disorders. Because the signs were in German, I was totally helpless to travel or even order food. I would stare at a sign as hard as I could, but the letters would never rearrange themselves to make sense to me.”
“One thing that is very different about the schools there is that there is more of a focus on the rest of the world instead of solely on Germany,” said Jordan Kuck, a junior from Bertrand majoring in Education with a dual emphasis in history and political science. “The Germans realize that more and more the world is becoming one big global culture, something that the United States has yet to realize. We need to take a lesson from them and start teaching our kids more foreign languages as well as putting an emphasis on international events and relations, instead of only focusing on our country. By going on this trip, I learned that there is a lot more to this world than the United States and Nebraska; traveling abroad provides an educational opportunity unlike anything else in the world.”
The students that participated on this trip were Denise Dearmont of Burwell, Neil Hammond of Red Cloud, Jeannine Glesmann of Papillion, Katie Ludden of Kearney, Jordan Kuck of Bertrand, Jill Lawson of Gering, Matt Breitkreutz of Ord, Tiffany Robinson of Elm Creek, Jodi Smith of David City, and Bryan Wortmann of Hartington.