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Danke!: Student thankful for trip to German language institute

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Talk about timing for Portland Community College student Lynette Hieber.

The 24-year-old resident of Northeast Portland had just started a German class taught by PCC instructor Kristi Tompkins this fall term when a homework assignment paid off in a big way. Hieber won a free trip (recreation budget and room and board paid for) through the Goethe Institute in Germany. Part of the class’ homework was to sign up for a German language social networking site hosted by the institute and Hieber was recognized with the prize for being the 1,000th visitor.

She said she hopes to take advantage of the offer next fall.

Lynette Hieber will be going to Germany next fall to immerse herself in the culture.

“This was amazing because one of the reasons I took German was to eventually go there and experience it,” Hieber said of traveling to Germany. “It was a one-in-a-thousand chance. It’s a boon that dropped into my lap.”

Her German instructor – Tompkins – said that the language institute is well respected and provides Hieber with a great opportunity to further her studies.

“Studying at the Goethe Institute in Germany is a great opportunity,” Tompkins said. “I have done a couple of teaching training institutes in Frankfurt and Berlin and they are the premier resource for all levels of German – from beginning learners to experienced teachers. The Goethe Institute is also a valuable resource for materials, testing, and links to all things German, really. So in a nutshell – a very deserving student has received a great opportunity to learn with the best. This is really a best of both worlds situation for her.”

Hieber graduated from the University of Oregon in 2009 with degrees in Japanese and business. She works as a server for a restaurant in Portland and decided to take a German class for fun this fall.

“I enjoy taking a class a year,” she said. “First class I took when I came back was pottery at the Southeast Center. They were really fun and I learned a lot from them. This term I took German because I wanted to take another language and because my boyfriend is fluent and I love how it sounds; it’s a really neat language. So many famous authors came from Germany and so much writing from there is really profound.”

When Hieber does travel to Germany, the international experience of language immersion won’t be new to her. During her senior year at Oregon, she was able to go to Japan to better understand the language by staying with a host family there.

“It’s amazing how much it is instinctual when you live there for a year and get to speak it every day,” Hieber said. “There is nothing like taking yourself from your comfort zone to give yourself perspective on your life. It was a great experience.”

But before she goes, she’ll work hard to get better at her German. It won’t be hard considering Hieber said she was quite impressed with PCC and the instruction.

“Kristi Tompkins is a great instructor,” Hieber said. “She is very helpful and good at keeping the work at a basic level. Otherwise we’d have no idea what is going on. She forces you to participate, which is good. Class itself is really entertaining. PCC is so sprawling that no matter where I went I could find a campus. And it seemed really organized with good depth of classes which is really important.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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