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40 Jahre Goethe-Institut Neuseeland
David Benson-Pope

  • DBP1 © David Benson-Pope
  • DBP2 © David Benson-Pope
  • DBP3 © David Benson-Pope

How does that work for the son of a baker and pastry-cook growing up in South Dunedin.
Well it’s quite a voyage. 
The streamed schooling system of the day dropped this 13 year old  into Latin and French. Loving those, the attraction of adding German (taught at the adjacent girls’ school) was obvious and despite no social success on that front, the pathway inexorably led to the excitement of the German Department at Otago University, roles in the annual drama productions – Büchner, Brecht and Goethe.  Battles with the Novelle, more substantial,  dense texts now appreciated, the alertness for the Wendepunkt and expectation of a sich-ereignete unerhorte Begebenheit, and much unmentionable activity, but we were not the only students to damage the lights playing cricked in the corridor.
After graduating and Christchurch Teachers College, I recall as a young teacher visiting in 1976 the old embassy on Mt Victoria.
Welcomed and sent away with a suitcase full of great resources (and they lent me the suitcase).  Amazing support which increased further with the formal arrival the Goethe-Institut in Wellington, and I was the lucky recipient of my first taste of that largesse at the end of my initial year of teaching in Dunedin.
The Winterkurs in Grafing and München. Outside of class time the tuition continued at the hands of the lovely Frau Maierbacher (Café Maierbacher, Marktplatz, Grafing bei München).  Not only did she boast with good reason the best Gulaschsuppe in  the world, but shared with a bunch of colonials the secret of good (and I mean really good) Glühwein.
Subsequently Goethe has taken me to  parts of the world many will never see,  among those a lovely host family in Göttingen,  exciting days in  Berlin,  a chance meeting in  Dresden with a man who as a boy lived through the firestorm that melted the town.
All this thanks to the encouragement and support of the highly professional staff here and in Germany
And a great testament to the wisdom of this approach to supporting and promulgating German Language and Culture.
These experiences are contagious too. My most recent visit was to see my son on a University exchange at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen
For my part I know the wider reach of the observations and views I have subsequently shared. Thousands of students (I taught for 26 years), city council staff and colleagues and fellow members of Parliament.  And now a city councillor once again I still draw on that knowledge and experience in many areas as we encourage colleagues to join the 21st century.