German Testimonials

Jordan Bamrick

"My experience with German at Canisius has been very rewarding, to say the least. I am an ABEC/German dual major, and while these two majors are very different, they work very well together. Through the German program I was able to secure an internship at Zoo Wuppertal in Wuppertal, Germany. I spent six weeks working with various animals, such as elephants, monkeys, penguins, and many others. It was my first time outside of the United States and I was nervous that I would not be able to speak the language proficiently, but I found that I could speak German much better than I expected! My German classes at Canisius had more than prepared me, and I applied what I had learned to my real world experience. My time in Wuppertal not only improved my German speaking skills tremendously, but also improved my confidence in the workplace and cultural awareness. The people I worked with, the animals I cared for, and the knowledge I gained in Germany will forever hold a piece of my heart. My experience with the German program at Canisius goes to show that you can do anything with German, even become a zookeeper!"

Daniel Beyer

"The German program at Canisius College has had a large impact on my perception of the institution itself, and of the world beyond. In completing my German major, I was exposed to the fascinating culture and challenging history of a resilient nation. Some of the richest moments of my education were spent discussing the creative explosion that occurred during the turbulent times of the Weimar Republic. The offshoots of this period are still seen today, as even Steve Jobs designed his Apple products after the Bauhaus movement.

"National German Honors Society adds another dimension to the German experience at Canisius College. The group itself carries on the Germanic tradition of the Jesuit founders, which is in itself rewarding to learn about; but additionally, through joining, each member is able to attend cultural events in the WNY and Toronto area: Performances at the BPO, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and the annual German Mass or: Weihnachtsmesse are some of the many things that members can look forward to.

"Given that Germany has played, and continues to play such an influential role in European politics, it is not boasting to say that it is one of the most vital and useful programs for understanding world affairs. Not to mention, with the addition of the National German Honors Society, each student is given the opportunity to enjoy and experience German culture without leaving Buffalo. Thus, I can say – with bias, but with total earnest, that Canisius is one of the best institutions to choose for learning and living the German language and culture."

Andrew Dibble

"The German program at Canisius College has been the single most positively influential experience of my undergraduate career. It exemplifies everything that a student could hope to have in his or her major, such as the flexibility of and input of students in the curriculum, the variety of courses, the many study tours and events throughout the year, and the camaraderie among the majors and alumni of the program.

"In learning a foreign language, you learn not just the language itself. You also learn the culture behind the language, and you become able to gain knowledge of information outside the reach of a monoglot, knowledge that is intrinsically linked to the language and its culture. You develop a new way of viewing the world.

"During my study abroad experience in the heart of Bavaria, I did just that. I learned a lot about Germany, her language, people, and culture; but I also met many people from all corners of the globe and all walks of life, and made several lifelong friends. I never would have had all of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences or met all of these incredible people had it not been due to German at Canisius College. Viel Glück und Erfolg!"

Michael O'Sullivan, PhD

"There have been few more life-altering educational choices than the decision to add a German major to my study of History at Canisius College. Although I took some German in High School, it was under the tutelage of Canisius College faculty and as a part of the institution’s exchange programs to Dortmund that I fell in love with German history, language, and culture. I matured tremendously as I participated in language immersion programs, adjusted to a new culture, and discovered the most passionate professional football club in the world (Borussia Dortmund). My fascination with Germany has yet to end. After careful guidance and mentoring from faculty advisors who set me on a path toward academic achievement, I studied for a year at the University of Münster with a Fulbright scholarship after graduation. With this opportunity, I researched twentieth-century German Catholicism in German archives, which continues to be my professional focus today. Afterward I completed a fully funded PhD in modern German history at the University of North Carolina and received a faculty position at Marist College, where I am currently an Associate Professor of History. Along the way I returned professionally to Germany several times, including a year of dissertation research with a German Academic Exchange grant to the University of Cologne. Beyond the professional benefits of German mastery, learning intensely about another culture enriched my life tremendously. I maintain countless personal friendships across the Atlantic in a country that I consider a second home. In my own professional life Canisius faculty, such as Larry Jones and Peter Böhm, serve as role models as I attempt to motivate and inspire my own undergraduate students."

Nathan A. Shoff

"Because of the outstanding faculty – and excellent class offerings – my study of German at Canisius College entailed more than merely memorizing new nouns and verbs; it was also an education in the culture, history, politics, art, and philosophy expressed in and through that language. As all modern languages develop organically, the language itself is a mirror on the culture in which it was developed. And although my current employment doesn’t routinely bring me into contact with German speaking peoples, my appreciation and understanding of German expressed through such things as the literature of Uwe Timm, or the films of Werner Herzog, lasts with me through this day.

"With Germany being one of the most consistently stable national economies in our increasingly globalised economic system, it is more important than ever to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of that country’s principle modes of communication, and, likewise, the mental constructs of its political class.

"But even if you’re not regularly communicating with German nationals in your profession, it is nevertheless wonderful to have an additional portion of world culture open to your understanding by learning how to speak and translate German. From knowing what I’m eating when I order 'Schweinshaxe' to understanding what’s going on in a performance of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, I can truly say that knowledge of this foreign language has enriched my life."

Rachel Sikorski

"As a triple major at Canisius College, I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that led me to a career path that combines my interests in art and psychotherapy. Although a major in German was initially unexpected, it ultimately made for educational and life experiences more rewarding than I ever could have realized. I spent a summer abroad living in Dortmund, Germany with a wonderful host-family. There, I was able to work and travel Europe easily and with independence. The experience undoubtedly changed me for the better; it opened my mind and allowed me to gain a new perspective on life, while briefly living another. Not without an experience abroad, immersed completely in another culture, could anyone learn a language as quickly or gain insight into the human condition and the similarities that exist cross-culturally. Sometimes it's the least expected things in our lives, like my choosing to major in German, that make for the most personally fulfilling experiences. When I think back on the moment I decided to go for it, to say yes to what was outside my comfort zone, I now recognize what a pivotal and important step that was for me and my future."

Edward Snyder, PhD

"When I arrived at Canisius College, I had little desire to study a foreign language. My plan was to take no more than the minimum amount of German classes I needed to graduate. Before I could do that, however, I came under the excellent guidance of Peter Böhm and Larry Jones, both of whom convinced me to continue studying German. It is clear to me now, in retrospect, that this decision was a monumental turning point in my life. The next thing I knew I was a dual History/German major with a sudden passion for learning German. With the encouragement of Dr. Böhm I studied abroad at the University of Dortmund and to his dismay, I became a fan of the great Borussia Dortmund.

"Upon graduating from Canisius College I received a Fulbright grant to research the question of Protestant resistance during the Third Reich at the University of Bielefeld. From there, I completed a fully funded PhD in modern German history at the University of Minnesota. In addition to generous support from the University of Minnesota, I also received research support from the German Academic Exchange Service and the Central European History Society. Today, I am an assistant professor of history at Chowan University.

"Reflecting upon my experience at Canisius College, it is clear to me that I would not be where I am today without the guidance and influence of Dr. Jones and Dr. Böhm. The academic rigor of the history classes at Canisius, especially those of Dr. Jones, prepared me well to meet the challenges of completing a PhD program. In the same vein, Dr. Böhm's passion for teaching and enthusiasm for German have profoundly influenced my own approach to teaching. To this end, my decision to attend Canisius and pursue a dual major in History and German was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made."

Mark Van Kerkhoven

"I honestly do not think I could have become the person I am today without studying German and having had the opportunities available at Canisius. Studying German there has made me an incredibly well rounded and globally aware individual, but more importantly, someone aware of his own strengths, weaknesses and how to overcome any problem he will ever encounter. Besides this, there are two things that I greatly enjoyed from my studies of German. First, the professor and the courses were always exceptional. Dr. Böhm truly cares about each of his students, and often will go (very far) out of his way to help them. The courses he taught consistently challenged me to further my German communication skills and always broadened my knowledge of the world. I also assisted Dr. Böhm in making a completely new course, Culture and History of the Weimar Republic, which helped me focus my own interests and thus made German even more relevant to me. Second, the German program has a close-knit community that enhances a superb academic experience with a social realm to apply it. At any given moment, one can find the German Majors constantly assisting one another on a difficult topic or even just discussing not only German, but also history, politics, philosophy and much more. The official community of the German program is the National German Honor Society, which has created relevant connections between my life and German language, culture, and history. For example, I took part in a trip to New York City with the National German Honor Society where I met many important individuals in the German-American community on the East Coast. I also personally met individuals in the German-American Chamber of Commerce, the German Consulate in New York City, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Overall, for the amount of work I put into learning German at Canisius, I can immediately see the benefits now and will continue to see them very far into the future."

Melissa Wright

"I started German at Canisius my first semester. I knew I needed to take at least two semesters of a language and given that I had almost seven years of Spanish in middle and high school, I decided to try something new, entirely new. It is quite possibly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Immediately, I felt a part of a unique community on campus and Dr. Böhm led classes that were exciting and participatory. We were immersed in the language: speaking, listening, and engaging with one another—nearly all in German-- in just a few weeks. Language was enacted in the classroom and not simply a set of vocabulary words to memorize. Now, as an instructor of Composition at the University at Buffalo, I realize how valuable it was to not only have him as a teaching model, but to participate in such a vibrant and stimulating setting.

"As the semesters passed, our class became more and more of a community and the bonds we formed there allowed us to trust one another and test out our burgeoning language skills. After just two and a half years, we were ready to study abroad. For me, this was a huge personal accomplishment and a testament to Dr. Böhm and the department.

"My experience studying abroad was easily one of the best experiences of my life. Our first week in Germany was spent on a cross-country tour of the “back roads.” Dr. Böhm rented a car and we set off on the Auto-Bahn, visiting beautiful rural towns (in addition to the larger city, Dresden, perhaps my favorite), interacting with inn-keepers and locals, and enjoying one another’s company over authentic German food.

"The first few weeks of our time at Dortmund was spent in an intense German language program to prepare us for the time abroad. I was delighted to find that the abroad program was opened up to students from all over the world. Quickly we became friends with not only Germans, but students from Russia, Mexico, and Poland, to name a few. In addition to becoming fluent (or nearly fluent) by the end of the five months, I also learned a great deal in the two English literature courses I took. I used one of the papers for these classes to apply to the University at Buffalo master’s program in English. (I was admitted.)

"As an employee for the past six years at an educational technology firm here in Buffalo, formerly known as Campus Labs (now Higher One), my language proficiency has proven beneficial a number of times: On one such occasion, the Vice President overheard I knew German and asked me to help her edit a student survey that was written solely in German. It was a fantastic way to demonstrate my professionalism and unique background and ended up paying off in the end, as I was promoted twice and now serve as a part-time consultant there.

"Now, as a PhD student in Comparative Literature at UB, my German language skills are still very much a part of my studies. I have an interesting edge anytime we read German philosophy or literature—I cannot imagine reading Heidegger without it! Moreover, at the present moment, I am currently reading Freud and I find it fascinating to compare the English to the original German version to gain insight into Freud’s nuanced signification. Of course, I’m burying the lead here a bit, because a second language is required as part of this PhD program (or any Comparative Literature program. Indeed, my background in a language, nonetheless a language so essential to philosophic discourse, was absolutely essential to my being accepted.

"I have often thought back on that decision I made freshman year. I am elated for taking on this challenge that has changed my perspective on the world, connected me with people all over the world, and introduced me to the vast intricacies and nuances of language."