Introducing Dr. Lisa Hock, JYM interim director

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Dr. Lisabeth Hock, JYM Interim Director

Dear students, participating colleges and universities, JYM Alumni, and friends and supporters of the Junior Year in Munich Program,

My name is Lisabeth Hock, and I go by Lisa. I’m an associate professor of German at Wayne State University, where I’ve been teaching since 2001. Prior to that, I taught for three years at the College of Wooster in Ohio after receiving my Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. My research deals with German women writers, specifically women and medical discourse and women and race. I also conduct research on the scholarship of teaching and learning.

My most recent publication is the fall 2019 issue of Die Unterrichtspraxis on the topic of globalizing German studies, which I co-curated with my colleague Assistant Professor Nicole Coleman. This project grew out of my experience teaching all levels of German language, literature and culture from first semester through graduate seminars, as well as an introductory course for our global studies program, Introduction to Global Stories.

I am passionate about the humanities, about creating connections between the humanities and other disciplines, and about study abroad. Having advised WSU participants as well as student research conducted in Munich, I am well acquainted with the Junior Year in Munich program. And having worked with former program director, Dr. Mark Ferguson, as a colleague in Germany since I came to Wayne State, I am aware that I have some very big shoes to fill. Mark led JYM with grace and skill over the past 25 years, working together with our team in Munich to continually update the curriculum, raise funds, and maintain connections with our wonderful alumni.

Fortunately for me, he is also a skillful mentor and archivist. He has been helping me to learn the ropes and has done a great job documenting all of his good work so that I can continue to learn from his experiences. I am also fortunate to be working with an amazing Program Coordinator, Jackie Smith, and a top-notch team on the ground in Munich, led by Resident Director Dr. Hans-Peter Söder with extensive support from Academic Coordinators, Sommer Forschner and Patricia Thill. We also have the full support of Vice President Ahmad Ezzeddine of the Office for International Programs and Dean Stephanie Hartwell of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences here at Wayne State University.

In January of this year, when I signed my letter accepting this position, I had no idea that we would have to bring our JYM students back to the U.S. two months later, in mid-March, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Led by Mark and Hans, our Detroit and Munich teams worked to get our students home as quickly and safely as possible. The JYM-Team also moved quickly to create a set of innovative online course offerings for those students, with the aim of helping them to process what they had been through, further develop their language skills and knowledge base in the area of German studies, maintain progress on their academic plans of work, and develop strategies for getting back to Germany as soon as possible. It is quite impressive what has happened in such a short period of time. As I keep telling myself, if work with my new JYM colleagues has gone this well in a time of major crisis, the sky is the limit for this program.

Due to the pandemic situation, we were unable to send students to Munich in this fall, but like many of you, we are still staying busy, and we are using the time we have to prepare for the future. Thanks to all of you, our fundraising efforts have brought in over $20,000 since May. We are tending to maintenance issues such as an audit that will help us to update our business practices and an overhaul of our website, which we hope will be completed by early next year. We are developing a pre-departure orientation course for new students, and a virtual course on art in Munich for our alumni. Hans is currently teaching a virtual course on mountains in German film and literature and I am developing a course on intercultural competence to accompany internships. We are also very much looking forward to having students back on the ground in Munich as soon as it is safe to do so. We are working to expand volunteer and internship opportunities for them, and with our new Covid-19 protocol, we are prepared to provide them with a public-health-informed immersive exchange experience.

For almost 70 years, Junior Year in Munich has helped students transcend physical, geographic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. It has helped them learn how to connect their individual experiences with broader transnational issues, and to think across disciplines. Our students change in wonderful ways during their year abroad, and when they return to the U.S. at the end of their time in Munich, they return as global citizens. This JYM project is more important now than ever. I am thrilled to be a part of it and look forward to working with and getting to know all of you.

With warmest wishes,

Lisabeth Hock, Ph.D., associate professor of German
Interim director, Junior Year in Munich Program

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