Three HWS students are finishing up one of the most extensive study abroad programs that the Colleges offer. Elizabeth Kniffin ’15, Matthew Colfax ’15 and Katherine Gallagher ’15 have spent the full academic year studying in Bremen, Germany, as this year’s Blocker Fellowship recipients. The intensive program is centered around cross-cultural learning and reflection on German and American cultures.
Through the generosity of Hobart College alumnus Julius G. Blocker ’53, the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Endowed Fund was established to provide support to students at HWS who participate in one of the Colleges’ study abroad programs in Germany. The program allows for study in several German cities.
Kniffin, Colfax and Gallagher, who each plan to minor in German area studies, have had the opportunity to attend courses alongside German and other international students at Universität Bremen, which is considered one of the country’s top universities. Located in the second-largest city in Northern Germany, the program provides excellent opportunities for the students to interact with local people and gain cultural exposure.
“Every struggle, achievement, and every person I’ve crossed paths with throughout the year has culminated into creating something greater, creating a better and stronger me,” Kniffin says. “My confidence, my intuition, my understanding of culture, and the heightened perception of my role as not just an American, but also a world citizen, are enhanced beyond ways I could never have foreseen prior to my journey.”
The students have been able to choose from a variety of housing options, such as boarding with a German family or sharing living space with other international students. Living among other students in addition to local people has resulted in a profound impact upon the HWS Blocker Fellows. For the most part, the students have lived independently and have not had faculty members as guides to the country.
“It’s up to you to plan for excursions, and you learn to deal with ‘real’ everyday problems,” Colfax says. “This was something that I feel has changed me for the better and now I’m confident that I can overcome any obstacle in real world life.”
In the fall, each student will be expected to create a post-program Cultural project, which may take the form of a blog, narrative or poem, photographic display, film or another medium. These materials will be presented on campus and used throughout the German Area Studies curriculum.
From left to right, Lizzy Kniffin ’15, Center for Global Education Programs Operations Manager Amy Teel, Associate Professor of German Studies Eric Klaus, and Matthew Colfax ’15 gather for a photo in Germany.