Strong common bonds between WKU and Germany withstand pandemic
- Department of Modern Languages
- Friday, December 11th, 2020
Students and teachers at WKU’s partner school for International Student Teaching, the Anne-Frank-Gymnasium in Werne, Germany, created a music video in response to the Jerusalema Dance Challenge.
The song Jerusalema is a creation of Master KG, a DJ from South Africa, and features vocalist Nocembo Zikode. It has had more than 1 billion streams on all platforms worldwide, according to a December 11, 2020, article in Forbes. Jerusalema dance videos have been created by monks in France, airport personnel in Germany, a dance mob in Times Square, and now by students and teachers at WKU’s partner school in Germany.
The idea was hatched by special education teacher Christian Bullenda on the first Friday in December. Very quickly Vice Principal Thorsten Kluger and teachers Patrick Kaschuba, Anika Osthoff, and Heike Armbrust were on board to make it happen the following Monday. The video was posted to YouTube by the end of the day. “It was a collaborative effort,” said Armbrust, International Student Teacher Supervisor for WKU, but “Anika took the lead and Patrick did the brilliant technical work.”
An award-winning school, the Anne-Frank-Gymnasium is designated as a “Digitale Schule” for its progressive teaching of STEM subjects. Teachers and students regularly generate creative products of learning and community projects like this one on their iPads. The school won the privilege of carrying the title “Europaschule” because it promotes intercultural learning and tolerance so effectively. As one component of that effort, the school has hosted nearly 90 WKU International Student Teachers for short-term student teaching since 2012.
Dr. Laura McGee, Professor of German at WKU, has assisted with the program, providing her expertise during the Berlin Trip portion of the experience in some years. “It has been wonderful to see the ways our future teachers grow personally and professionally during their internship in Germany. We know they are having a top-notch experience in Werne.”
WKU Alumna Kelli Ralston (Class of 2014), now an 8th grade teacher in Union County, KY, notes the lasting value of her participation in the program. Kelli wrote, “My experiences have inspired me to make it a mission to bring international understanding to my students in a rural county in Kentucky in order to expand my students’ world view.”
Heike Armbrust explained why the school values the short-term internships of future teachers from WKU so much. “They help our students see why they are learning a foreign language and give them a glimpse beyond their everyday horizon. Our students connect with another culture through the American teachers.”
Teachers at the school in Werne hope that the exchange can resume as soon as it is safe to travel again. When that happens, Heike Armbrust hopes to also send young student teachers from Germany to Warren County Schools for short-term internships, as had been planned before the pandemic. Stephanie Martin, Director of the Office of Professional Educator Services in the College of Education at WKU, is helping coordinate this special opportunity for area schools.
In her role as coordinator for the German American Partnership Program between the Anne-Frank-Gymnasium and Greenwood, South Warren, and Warren Central High Schools, Armbrust is a frequent visitor to Bowling Green. “It is like a second home to me,” Armbrust said. “My wishes for the entire WKU community are that you all will stay safe and healthy and find your way through this pandemic. I wish a blessed holiday for all of you, and hope that you all will never lose your faith and trust that there are better times to come.”
The WKU International Student Teaching opportunity is available to future teachers of all levels and subjects. Knowledge of German is not required. For more information about WKU International Student Teaching in Germany and other locations, contact Stephanie Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students and their families interested in studying German at WKU may contact Dr. Laura G. McGee at email@example.com.
- Forbes Interview with Master KG: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericfuller/2020/12/11/south-africas-master-kg-talks-jerusalema-bolobedu-dance-and-life-off-the-road/?sh=3401ba72b303