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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

July 19, 2011

40 years ago in Germany

Filed under Life in Europe

40 years ago this summer was my first trip to Germany. 3 other Ambassador College students and I spent about 10 weeks in Bad Oeynhausen.

In the fall of 1970 several Ambassador College students got together for a breakfast meeting on the Pasadena campus. There were ten or so present. We were interested in Bad Oeynhausen 1971 spending the summer in Germany to improve our German. However, we did not have any concrete ideas or leads on how to find a summer job and a place to stay. Then classmate Jon Rogers bought a Sunday edition of the German daily "Die Welt" in nearby Los Angeles, where a handful of German magazines and newspapers were sold. He looked through the classified ads and found an ad in the "Help wanted" section that had been placed by a construction and real estate company in Bad Oeynhausen, the "Wohnbau Bad Oeynhausen". They were looking for an engineer, if I recall correctly. Bad Oeynhausen is a spa located about 50 miles west-southwest of Hannover. It is on the Weser river and has the world’s highest carbonated, thermal saltwater fountain, which on calm days shoots water up to 40 meters high. Jon wrote the Wohnbau and told them that we were not able to fulfill the job that they had advertized, but instead were interested in spending the summer in Bad Oeynhausen. He asked whether they could help us find a place to stay. Bad Oeynausen was interesting to us because it was in the region near Hannover where the best high German is spoken, so we were confident that a summer there would improve our language skills. The Wohnbau manager, Helmut Klanke, contacted the local papers and they wrote an article about us – there were four of us who committed to making the trip. And sure enough, the newspapers had success in placing us with four families. I wound up at the Borchard Institut in Gohfeld, located about 2 miles from the center of Bad Oeynhausen. After we had been in Bad Oeynhausen for about four weeks, Herr Klanke and reporters from the local newspapers took us out for a meal and an interview, which was published in the local papers. The one article confused Jon and me: I worked at the Borchard Institut and not at the Gärtnerei Thies. At the end of the summer my employer gave me a "Zeugnis", a friendly evaluation of my work with the institute’s director, Dr. Borchard.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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