GREAL Alumni Newsletter - January 2010

Volume 10, No. 1
Jan. 2010

From the chair:

Dear Alums,

In this first year of the new decade, GREAL is thriving! In terms of student enrollments, we are now the second-largest (after Spanish & Portuguese) department in Irvin Hall, and all of our eight languages are doing well. All our best wishes to you for a happy and prosperous 2010!

-- Margaret Ziolkowski Acting Chair, GREAL

Fall of the Berlin Wall: Twentieth Anniversary Celebration

GREAL joined the worldwide celebration of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall with a panel discussion.

An audience of more than a hundred students, faculty members, and community members listened raptly to the three panelists' stories, in German, of their life in and leaving of the German Democratic Republic (Socialist East Germany).

Peter Seifert, retired engineer in Middletown, Ohio, told how he, as a 19-year old, rebelling against the Socialist Party, left the pre-Wall GDR alone on the train (with his parents' knowledge) by pretending to be going to a West Berlin skin specialist. He could not return to visit his parents until many years later.

Dr. Wolfgang Miiller, Professor Emeritus of German at Dickinson college, escaped over the border wearing an American uniform arranged for him by American friends, (one would become his wife).

Dr. Burkhard Militzer, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at University of California-Berkeley, was serving in the Army as a draftee when word came that his unit might have to shoot at anti-government demonstrators. The news devastated him; however, it never came to be, as the Wall opened shortly after.


What do the Chechens of Russia and the Navajos in the U.S. have in common? Dr. Margaret Ziolkowski can tell you-her book, Alien Visions (University of Delaware Press, 2005), was about literary treatments of both groups. "Both were deported as an entire population to another territory-the Chechens were deported during World War II because the Soviets thought they would collaborate with the Germans," explains Dr. Ziolkowski. The Navajos, about 9,000 men, women and children, were sent on "The Long Walk" about 300 miles from their home to a reservation in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. This was one of four books written by Dr. Ziolkowski and part of the reason why she was named a University Distinguished Scholar in 2006.

Dr. Ziolkowski, who teaches Russian language at all levels in addition to Russian Folklore and Russian literature, came to Miami in 1988 after a summer language tour in Russia and a postdoctoral year in Moscow, where she met her husband, an American historian who now also teaches at Miami.

A Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University followed, then teaching positions at the University of Vermont, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of Texas at El Paso, (where she was the entire Russian faculty).

At Princeton, where Dr. Ziolkowski did her undergraduate work majoring in Russian, she was in the first class into which women were admitted.

She had studied Russian in high school, entering Princeton with two years of college creditsomething that is rarely seen today among Miami undergraduates, as Russian teaching in high school has declined and most students of Russian begin the language in college.

Still, though, Russian language learning has its fans among Miami students. One of Dr. Ziolkowski's pet projects is the popular new Russian and East European and Eurasian Studies major, which provides two tracks of Russian study-one language and literature-focused, the other more political and historical, but both Russian language-based.

Alumni News from All Over

Amy Pate ('98) earned her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Maryland and is currently research director for the Minorities at Risk project there. Lisa Lehner ('98), is a partner in a Cincinnati law firm practicing immigration law. She recently reconnected with a German exchange her family hosted when she was a child!

Deacon Shupp ('99, German) and his wife Eden Radebaugh Schupp ('98) recently had a daughter, Margaret Eden. Dean is a principal consultant for Oracle; Eden is a stay-at-home mother. John Spooner is an instructor in math at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC. He also works with Hickory's sister city, Altenburg, Germany. "My studies in German continue to pay dividends even though I am not employed in German studies," he writes.

Kelly Armstrong ('03) passed the bar exam in July and is now an associate at Romanucci and Blandin in Chicago, where her office is around the corner from the Christkindlmarkt! Dava Brown and husband welcomed a baby boy, Simeon David, in June.

Erin Munsie ('08), who teaches at Randall K. Cooper High School in Boone, Kentucky, brought 10 of her German students to visit Miami in the fall; they took a campus tour and visited a German class. They wrote thank-you notes in German after their classroom visits!