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Constance Roberts '19

I began studying German online after my freshman year at UMass. At the time, I was an Art History major who had spent her freshman year taking intensive Chinese classes. I thought I wanted to study East Asian art but to keep my options open, I decided to learn German as well. I continued to study both languages until my junior year. By then, my interests had shifted more towards German and German culture. Before leaving for the summer, I declared a second major in German.

Declaring a second major in German created opportunities for an incredible senior year. I used my knowledge of German to help with my Art History thesis on Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, a Scottish artist with close ties to Vienna and its art critics. In addition, I had the opportunity to take content classes in German at both UMass and Amherst College. I greatly enjoyed the challenge of trying to learn a language while also trying to learn something in that language.

Although I only spent one year as an official German major, the GSS department played a large role in my UMass experience. The professors were knowledgeable and accessible, and I found myself taking their classes whenever possible. I took a Scandinavian literature class for fun and I took my required Honors Seminar in the department. In addition, I helped the DEFA Film Library host their Culture in the Cold War: East German Art, Music and Film summer institute. I translated short passages, assisted with installing an exhibition of recently donated Anke Feuchtenberger posters, wrote an exhibition essay and gained knowledge about how conferences come together. I worked with incredible people and also learned about East German culture and history.

The knowledge of East German came in handy. After I graduated in May 2019 with a double B.A. in Art History and German, I traveled to Greifswald on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. I worked in a Gymnasium teaching English to classes ranging in age from seventh to twelfth grade. I enjoyed engaging with my students, especially when they felt comfortable enough to ask questions and talk with me. Starting this fall, I will work towards a Master of Science in Library Science at UNC Chapel Hill, where I intend to combine my practical experience and knowledge of languages to work towards creating multicultural and accessible school libraries.