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Profiles: Jennifer Henrichsen
Name Jennifer Henrichsen
College Pacific Lutheran University, University of Geneva, University of Pennsylvania
Degree B.A. Communication and Political Science, minor in German, M.A. International and European Security, M.A. Communication
Current job title Ph.D. Candidate
Employer University of Pennsylvania
Location Philadelphia, PA

Why did you first start learning German?
I first started to learn German because I have Germanic ancestry and it was a way to connect to my past. My paternal grandfather’s family was from Germany and my maternal grandmother’s family was from the German-speaking part of Switzerland. German was also offered at my high school and was considered the more rigorously taught of the two languages offered there, which is another reason why I wanted to take it – especially since I was keen to study abroad once I got to college.

What did you get out of your German studies?
Learning German has helped me to learn about Germanic cultures, has broadened my perspective, and has enabled me to be more connected to others abroad. Learning German has also helped me to keep my mind flexible and has helped me to learn other languages more quickly.

What influence did German have on your career choices?
German has been helpful when I’ve traveled abroad to various countries and in some of my Ph.D. research.

How you use German today at home or in your work?
I use German in some of my doctoral research. I was in Berlin last summer doing field work related to surveillance during the Cold War and I needed to translate much of what I found, including archival Stasi documents. It has also been important to know German in order to better communicate with archivists, apply for access to the archives, and connect with people for interviews.


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