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Study Abroad in Germany

Student Name
Natalie Hillerson

Experiential Learning Category

International Engagement

Associated UW Course (if applicable)


Summarize your proposed experiential learning activity, including the primary focus of
your activity, your intended actions, and the expectations of your supervisor and/or
I am traveling to Berlin and Jena, Germany over Summer A term through the Honors Program study
abroad, "Reenacting German and American Identities." The primary focus of this trip is to examine
different aspects of identity formation and present on our findings. We will be conducting our own
research while there and are expected to connect with faculty at partnering universities, other students,
and inhabitants of Berlin in order to make our research as thorough and in-depth as possible. While also
following the activities and coursework outlined by our syllabus, I also plan to explore the cities on my own
and delve into exploring a new culture.

Explain how your activity demonstrates the values of the Honors Program Experiential
Learning area you selected. Rather than reiterating our definition, outline how your
activity embodies this definition.
Naturally, traveling abroad is an example of international engagement. I think the program to Germany in
particular embodies international engagement because of the research each student is required to
conduct. My research is going to focus on memorialization and national identity in both Germany and the
United States, which will require me to engage critically with people and places both abroad and back
home. In order to be successful in the program, I will have to think deeply about the complexities of
identity formation in the context of a new culture and apply this new knowledge to an analysis of the two
countries through interviews and outside research.

How and why did you select this engagement? What skills or experiences do you hope to
gain from it?
Studying abroad has been one of my goals since I starting thinking about college, and when I saw that
there was going to be a study abroad trip to Germany that focused on identity formation, I was hooked

and knew I had to apply. I am very intrigued by the concept of identity formation and how this process is
shaped by various intersections, like race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality. I hope that I can
explore these ideas and develop various research skills. Learning interview techniques and other forms of
data collection will be influential in my future studies in both humanities and science fields. I also hope to
learn more about German culture and become a well-rounded, globally focused student and individual.

How does this activity connect to your concurrent or past coursework? How does it
speak to your broader education goals and experiences?
Interestingly enough, I have made several connections between the study abroad prep seminar and my
current class on spatial politics (taught by Kristina Graaff, a professor at the university I'll be attending this
summer). In the prep seminar, we've been talking a lot about gentrification and identities, specifically
migrant identities. Likewise, several of our discussions in the spatial politics class have been about
immigration, and my research presentation was focusing in part on gentrification. It's been exciting to see
these classes complement each other so well! I hope I can continue making connections to this study
abroad trip in my future courses, as well as perhaps using my study abroad research experience in my
science coursework.

How will your activity contribute to the larger goals of the organization/your partners?
The research I conduct while abroad will connect back to my cohort abroad, as we will present our
respective findings in a large group presentation. This research will contribute to the larger goals of the
study abroad program through exploring various aspects of German and American identities. Through
other coursework in Berlin and Jena, I will get to investigate more about these ideas and receive an
interdisciplinary look at identity (re)formation in various contexts, like education, economics, and policy.
These educational intersections line up well with the goals of the larger interdisciplinary Honors Program,
and getting to know my peers on the trip will likewise bring me closer to the Honors community.