When customers at Henderson’s cozy Roadhaus diner ask Michelle Malecha what she could possibly do with a degree in German, she just smiles.
The recent MSU graduate has already studied in Germany twice, once in high school and once for a year during college, and this fall she’s returned a third time.
Malecha’s love of Germany stems from all parts of the country’s history and culture.
“(I love) the unique diversities that make Germany the country it is,” she said. “For example, historically, how young Germany is from a political viewpoint, and yet how old the country is from a cultural viewpoint. The great differences in dialect among every region of Germany never cease to amaze me.”
On her most recent trip to Germany, Malecha acted as a representative for New Ulm through the Hans Joohs Exchange Program. The program connects New Ulmwith its sister-city of Ulm, Germany. Every year, New Ulm sends a representative to Ulm for about three months for the opportunity to study and explore a career in Germany. The goal is create strong relationships between the sister cities and encourage the open sharing of ideas and cultures.
“The Hans Joohs work exchange inspires younger generations to continue learning German and strengthening their heritage and cultural bond between Ulm, Germany, and New Ulm, Minnesota,” Malecha said. “It allows young people a chance to travel, immerse themselves in the German culture while living and working with residents of Ulm, as well as gain practical experience speaking German in the work force.”
Malecha learned of the program through a professor at MSU and applied in January. The day after her interview, she learned she’d been chosen to go. In fact, she was the unanimous top choice. At first, she could hardly believe it.