Working with German professor Dr. Diana Stantcheva from the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) as a collaborative team within GLCA’s Global Course Connections Program over the past four years has been a most productive and enjoyable journey. Both Denison and AUBG students have been collaborating on a great variety of projects for 7 continuous semesters. These courses have ranged from intermediate to advanced level , from language to content-focused, and from simple technologies to complex digitally innovative courses.
Students on both sides have gotten to know each other and both professors over the years, and it’s not been seldom that students who had worked together on a digitally supported project found each other to be partners again three semesters later. Via Google Hangouts and later Zoom video-conferencing students on both sides have met regularly over time to discuss American and East-European culture, US and German politics, the refugee situation in Europe, German media, Homosexuality in German film, gender and family, and linguistic phenomena, and much more – all in German!
This fall, on November 7th, Dr. Stantcheva came to Dr. Dillmann’s “Media in Germany” course to discuss the US presidential election from a European perspective with the class. In turn, students in the course explained and discussed the American voting system with Dr. Stantcheva who was extremely impressed both by how politically informed our students were and how well they were able to describe the complex election system and state their own opinions on the two competing candidates in very clear German.
Dr. Stantcheva’s husband Vladi, an accomplished artist based in Sofia and Berlin, joined us for a campus tour where he talked with several students in German. He was particularly interested in students working at the election information table in Slayter Hall and likewise impressed by how politically savvy and engaged our students are. The stereotype that young Americans are indifferent to the politics in their own country was certainly not confirmed on our campus.
Definitely a highlight of Diana’s and Vladi’s visit – according to both Diana and Vladi – was visiting the Mulberry MixLab with its director, Christian Faur, showing them the lab space with its manifold artistic production programs and demonstrating to them how the various 3-D printers set up in Mulberry and the Bryant Arts Center function. Diana was especially delighted about the special gift she received from Christian: her name laser-cut into a piece of wood.
We concluded the evening with a meal at Day Y Noche, where two of our Denison students had the pleasure to be captured spontaneously in a portrait drawing by the artist at the dinner table. They said that they would always treasure this unexpected gift.
Thank you, Diana and Vladi, for your visit and sharing your thoughts and experiences with our students!