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Profiles: Doris Donelan
Name Doris Donelan
College Skidmore College
Degree B.A. German, B.S. Social Work
Current job title Student
Employer -
Location Saratoga Springs, NY

Why did you first start learning German?
I first started learning German in high school because I felt like I had a connection to the language. My dad studied abroad in Tübingen during graduate school, and in 5th grade I lived in Vienna with my family for four months. The German language always seemed like something that was a part of my life, even though I don't have much of an ethnic German background.

What did you get out of your German studies?
One of the things I find I've gotten the most out of my German studies is exposure to a different culture that offers a new language, new books, new TV, and new music. I studied abroad in Freiburg last semester and I loved visiting bookstores because all of the books were (obviously) in German. I've always loved reading, but being able to do it in a different language is different and exciting and there's a whole new pool of authors. There are a lot of really great German authors out there, and you get a different experience reading something in its original language as opposed to a translation.

What influence did German have on your career choices?
I haven't graduated from college yet, but German has definitely had an influence on my career choices. For example, when I was in Freiburg I had an internship at an international school for refugees. I was a teaching assistant in a German grammar class, and I also ran an English after help group for people who needed extra practice. This internship was great because I got to work within my two majors. Germany also has a very large immigrant and refugee population, and I learned so much about Germany just by observing how they deal with different social issues. I'm currently in the process of applying for a year long scholarship in Germany after I graduate and before I go to graduate school. Ideally in my future I'd be able to incorporate both social work and German into my career.

How do you use German today at home or in your work?
I use German today in school three days a week during my senior seminar, but I would say a day doesn't go by without my doing something German related, whether it be reading a short German story or watching "Babylon Berlin." I've been swapping the language of the book I read, so if I'm reading an English book now I'll read a German book next. It's easy to incorporate German into your daily life once you start seeking out books and TV, and also by seeking out the people in your environment who speak German and would like to speak with you.

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