Chad Wellmon / German

My Dream Idea is already becoming a reality. My J-Term seminar, “Berlin, Geography of a Modern Metropolis,” was approved and now I’ll be taking 20 UVa undergrads to Berlin for two weeks in early January. The problem, however, is that a number of my students cannot afford to join me. My Mead dream idea, then, is to make my Berlin trip possible for a broader student population. In my J-Term seminar, we will experience Berlin as a geographical and spatial prism of the long, troubled and exciting history of Germany. Instead of proceeding through this history and culture chronologically, we will allow specific urban sites and places to guide us through Germany’s past, present and future. Our walking tours, readings and discussions will take us through the architectural, cultural and urban history of Berlin and modern Europe.

Loaded with our own maps, cultural histories, plays, pod-casts and architectural guides, we won’t just read about German cultural history, we’ll walk through it and touch it. While reading about the Soviet take-over of Berlin, we’ll walk through the re-constructed Reichstag. While reading Primo Levi’s If This is a Man, his account of Auschwitz, we’ll walk the ruins of the Buchenwald concentration camp. After reading Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, we’ll tour the theater he founded and watch a performance. We’ll discuss the 1936 Olympics and the rise of Nazi Germany, while visiting Olympiastadion and walking through the ruins of the SS and Gestapo Headquarters.

While this course offers an unparalleled opportunity for me to interact with my students over two weeks of intensive experiential learning, it’s also quite expensive.

Excluding airfare it costs over $3,200 per student. Unfortunately, there are no scholarships available, so students either have to pay their own way or take out loans on top of their regular semester loan packages. The Mead Endowment funds would allow me to make my dream idea a reality not just for me but also for one or several deserving students.

As mentioned above, the course, as set by UVa Study Abroad in accord with my budget, is $3,200 per student. I propose to use my Mead funds as scholarships for financially needy students in one of two forms: 1) fund one $3,200 scholarship for a strong applicant with financial need or 2) fund three $1,000 scholarships for three strong applicants with financial need. My entire vocation as a professor of German literature and philosophy began when I won a $3,000 scholarship to go to Germany over the summer. That money changed my life, because it afforded me an experience of a lifetime. I would love nothing more than to be able help one of my students experience something similar.