Next year Andrew will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his SAGSE scholarship to Germany. The scholarship was only a few years into its existence, but was already on its way to inspiring the youth of Australia to develop and pursue their passions for learning about the German language and culture. After his exchange, Andrew studied German and for many years was a teacher of German and drama. In recent times he has been a consultant and has been very active in training the next generation of German teachers. He continues to pursue his love of drama, acting and directing plays in local community theatre groups.
Year of Exchange: 1974/75
Group Leaders: Lois Reynolds & David Coe
School: Haileybury College
Sponsor: ‘Hanseatic Scholarship’ – Seaways Exports Pty Ltd & Hermann Ludwig of Australia
Town / city of exchange in Germany: Wolfsburg
On my first overseas trip I had an amazing opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of a host family whilst still a teenager, and develop my initially very tentative language skills with their support. Experiencing a white Christmas for the first time was magical, although walking the feisty family dachshund on slippery paths around a half-frozen lake presented some interesting challenges!
I remember the realisation that my textbook learning about German culture was simplistic. Particularly our group visit to Berlin opened up a new understanding of the world. In retrospect, the first of my many visits to this very complex city ignited my fascination with Europe, and cemented my determination to continue my study of the German language.
I undertook a teaching degree following my undergraduate studies in the Arts, which qualified me to teach German, English and Drama in Secondary schools.
I had a very successful 27-year career as a teacher in Victoria, as well as a year in Frankfurt working as a teacher assistant for English in an Abendgymnasium. I then had the opportunity to work at the Goethe-Institut Australien, and other cultural organisations, as well as with various educational authorities. I also lectured at a number of Victorian universities – Victoria, ACU and La Trobe. Additionally I have worked as an educational consultant for many years, both privately and for an RTO supporting teachers of VET Applied Language. Along the way I wrote a textbook for Secondary German students, as well as co-writing the Australian Curriculum for German. I have also been heavily involved in Professional Teaching Associations, being past President and now Life Member of both the Association of German Teachers of Victoria (AGTV) and Modern Language Teachers Association of Victoria (MLTAV). This volunteer work particularly involved supporting teachers, and advocacy work for Languages education.
I am still working to develop the skills and understanding of our teachers of the future, currently lecturing part-time at the University of Melbourne, specialising in the methodology of teaching Languages. I’ve also returned to teaching German with the U3A in Melbourne – a rewarding experience, working with adult learners and without the constraints of ‘reporting’ on progress.
My ‘transition to retirement’ plans include probably continuing the work I’m doing presently, along with more involvement in community theatre where I act, direct, design and work as a volunteer, in particular at Malvern Theatre Company.
My SAGSE experiences influenced me in many ways, broadening my horizons socially and culturally, giving me confidence, and instilling a life-long passion to be engaged with, and enjoy other languages and cultures.
If, like Andrew, your Jahrgang is celebrating an anniversary this year or next, pick up the phone and get on to some of the people you went with. A fantastic way to give something back all these years later is to do as the Class of 81 did, and sponsor an additional alumni scholarship this year. Alumni from any years can always pay their membership and make a donation online.