Each year, the Blocker Fellowship funds student participation in an HWS-sponsored study abroad program in Germany. Thanks to the generosity of Julius G. Blocker ’53, the funds enable students to explore German culture in immersive, transformative cultural experience and to return to the Colleges and share those experiences with the campus community.
During the Blocker Cultural Showcase in the 2016 spring semester, recipients Wenruo Wang ’17, of Shenzhen, China; Nathan Gliedman ’17, of Ridgefield, Conn.; Annie Venditti ’17, of Warren, R.I.; and Paige Andrews ’17, of Madison, Conn., presented on the multiculturalism of German culture, transnational CrossFit culture, the latest European fashion trends and sports in a German college town.
“The whole experience gave me a more global perspective,” said Wang, who documented her semester in Berlin, meeting and speaking with Germans about multiculturalism, on her blog, “Seeing in Full Color.”
Gliedman, who was also based in Berlin, focused on the proliferation of CrossFit across Western Europe, allowing him to travel to Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Both Venditti and Andrews spent the semester in Freiburg, a university town located in Southwestern Germany near the French and Swiss borders, noted for its pleasant climate, progressive environmental policies, impressive medieval architecture and picturesque countryside.
While there, Venditti examined the sports culture in the town, which she found differed from that of the United States. “It’s more a part of their life,” she explained. “You definitely know when there is a game day, because of the feeling of excitement in the town.”
Andrews kept a regular blog analyzing the fashion trends she observed throughout Europe. With this opportunity to showcase her interest in the industry professionally, Andrews has been pursing internships and researching future career options in fashion and related industries.
“Students who study in Germany return with life-changing experiences, just as Julius G. Blocker had intended with this fund, ” said Visiting Assistant Professor of German Area Studies Ashwin J. Manthripragada.
As an HWS student, Blocker majored in modern languages and developed an interest in Germany that would evolve into a lifelong passion. That passion led Blocker to Columbia University, where he earned a master’s in international affairs and to the Free University in West Berlin, where he served as a Fulbright scholar. In 2008, he established the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Endowed Fund, which supports of the work of the Center for Global Education and continues to benefit generations of HWS students.