Professor of German
‘So, professor, how do you pronounce your name?’ students ask. – I tell them. And repeat it. It’s a Swiss name. It’s hard, I know. I was born there. A dialect version of German is my mother tongue. I got my MA in English and German from the University of Bern; then my PhD from Stanford, in 1989, in German Studies. I’ve been at Pomona since 1995. I am an immigrant, although for a long time I didn't realize it. I thought I was just visiting. I am a first generation academic. My father was a cheese maker, we are Swiss, after all… Hence, perhaps, my interest in smells… Just kidding. And in literature and culture and history and politics and the environment. But above all in languages. I speak several. They give me access to different ways of looking at the world. I like to convince my students of this, and I think in the German program at Pomona we are quite successful at it. Students study abroad; they get Fulbright and DAAD grants to Germany. Germany is interested in international exchanges. And it still has money for education… The world is an interesting place and languages, cultural studies – learning in general open it up for you. As Goethe wrote, “Alles, was uns begegnet, lässt Spuren zurück. Alles trägt unmerklich zu unserer Bildung bei.” That’s life.