Where are they now? Connor’s story
From a German Pupil Course, to inspiring the next generation of language learners as a German teacher: Connor tells us how his UK-German experiences outside the classroom led him to teaching a class of his own!
What is your favourite memory from the UK-German Connection experience?
As a Youth Ambassador, one of my projects was a letter exchange with another Ambassador based in Germany. It was incredible to see some of the younger pupils in my school receive real-life, authentic letters from real students in Germany! It helped show them there is so much to learn about our friends in Europe, and really inspired a few to keep on writing to their penpals for a long time.
If you find you can talk and chat and laugh with people in another language… you quickly find you can do so with anyone!
What is the most important thing you learned during the programmes?
The most important thing I learned was just how many other people were out there with a real love for languages and cultures – not just in the UK, but also in Germany. A lot of people in your everyday life might not understand the excitement learning about another culture can bring, or why it’s such a brilliant experience it is to visit another country and meet new and exciting people. These programmes not only helped me realise there are lots of others out there who feel like me, but also brought us all together on multiple occasions, which in turn allowed us to create something truly special through our continued projects with young people in our own areas.
How did your experience influence your decisions with regards to studies, work and travel?
My experiences helped me realise that I want to share my passion for other languages and cultures with others. I had so much fun running German-themed projects with younger students in my school that it helped me understand it’s what I wanted to do as a career. Not only did that lead to me continuing to develop my understanding of German at university, but also to ultimately becoming a teacher – and here I am! I truly wouldn’t change a single thing.
Did your experience have any additional influence on your life?
When I was younger, and through UK-German Connection was able to visit Germany for the first time, I was really nervous. I’m grateful to my experiences in Germany for helping me build my confidence and develop my skills to help me communicate better.
What are you doing now?
I am now a Teacher of German at a secondary school in North Yorkshire!
My experiences in Germany through UK-German Connection as a pupil inspired me to carry on studying languages at university, and I had such a great time working in a German school on my Year Abroad that I decided there was nothing I’d like better to do with my life. I now get to share my love of German language and culture with students in my school – and I’m always on the lookout for opportunities I can share with them, so they can experience all that German has to offer as well!
Did you stay in touch with the other people you met?
I’m still in touch with many of the people I met taking part in these programmes – some of whom have also gone on to become teachers. Where possible (and especially nowadays) we’ve kept in touch virtually – through video chats and Skype calls.
Have you visited Germany since?
I’ve been lucky enough to go over to Germany countless times since! The most recent trip was to help run a German Exchange programme with my school, which was absolutely brilliant!
Do you have any comments or advice for anyone thinking of applying for a UK-German Connection programme?
My only advice is to say ‘yes’. If you are lucky enough to receive this wonderful opportunity to get involved in a project through UK-German Connection, then you should absolutely take part, because you have no idea just how amazing your experiences are going to be! Go for it!