Friday, December 14, 2018

Didn't you want us to integrate?

Over the years, I've gnashed my teeth about learning German. I'm finally to the point that I can attend an event that's fully in German, can participate, and understand about 95% of what's going on. This is thanks to continuing to take German classes, because meeting with tandem partners has dissipated as a result of lack of time.

One of my current classes is the last one that is typically offered by local institutions. Sure, one can take the next level at a city about an hour away, but remember the comment about having no time? Therefore I took matters into my own hands and started, years ago, requesting some upper level classes at institutions not so far away. One place was stubborn and said that I would have to provide the entire class of students, and it would've been more than a dozen. I didn't have so many contacts there any more so couldn't bring that to fruition without the class at least being listed, even tentatively, on their schedule.

However, currently I'm in a full class with a lot of highly motivated students (several doctors, computer programmers, etc. who all work for German companies and need a high level of German to reach their career goals). I floated the idea of asking the institution for the next class, which was met  with enthusiasm from everyone.

I took the idea to the person in charge of the classes. "Why would you want to take that level? It's not required. You only need the next lower level for most requirements," he asked in German, surprised.

I explained to him that we are all working professionals, and that we want to fit in to our community or perform work functions properly and speak/read/write/understand German to the best of our ability. We're highly motivated, especially if you consider that most people won't even study at our current level unless they absolutely need to.

I was thankful that he was open to the idea, though slightly skeptical, and a week later, he approved it after speaking to the future teacher. Yippie!

When thinking over this situation, I found it ironic. In pretty much any country, citizens express wariness about outsiders, especially immigrants. New arrivals are criticized for not knowing the language or not speaking it well enough or having too much of an accent or or or...but here we have a full class of expats, refugees, and people somewhat temporarily stationed here who want to go on to the highest level possible and the idea is met with surprise.