To my friends and mentors,
I have just received the most recent departmental newsletter, which included a number of photos taken in Schwäbisch Hall by some of your current students. Truly wonderful! Of course, it reminded me of the time I spent there. I was particularly pleased to see that some of those students had traveled to Schwäbisch Hall with the support of the Sturm Fellowship – the same fellowship that enabled me to spend a summer in Germany back in 2009. I can imagine that you hear fairly often from former students, who want to share how much their German studies have influenced their lives after leaving the university. I would very much like to add my own voice to that chorus.
As a physician in training, I am often asked what I studied in college. Most people are rather surprised to hear that I majored in German, seeming instead to expect that I will have had a purely biomedical education. Still, I almost find that one is somehow granted a higher respect (at least in medicine), when one has previously pursued studies outside of the more typical scientific fields. At any rate, in my personal experience, a liberal arts education continues to have more value than the conventional wisdom seems to acknowledge, and I remain grateful for the wonderful opportunity to have studied German at the University of Michigan.
Whenever I correspond in German, I make a point of writing without a dictionary, partly for practice, partly to test myself, and partly (at least in the instance of writing to my former professors) as proof that your students take all of their lessons with them when they leave the department, and are enriched by them throughout their lives. All of which I’m sure you already know, though I don’t suppose it can hurt to hear it another time, from another former student.
And with that, I wish you and all of the dear people in the department (both past and present) a wonderful summer, and I hope that we will soon have the opportunity to meet again.
Ganz liebe Grüße aus Chicago,
David B. Chapel,
Class of 2011
Translated from a personal note to Kalli Federhofer, April 2018