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March Mania

Letters: Saddened by the proposed German cuts

I learned recently that the intent of the powers-that-be at PRAHS is to discontinue German after Linda Uscola retires. Reasons I have heard cited were ever-ubiquitous budget cuts, and that Spanish is more "universal." While I'm not sure how German, the most spoken language in Europe, is less "universal" than Spanish, I won't dwell on this. The facts are available to anyone who cares to look. I'd rather discuss why German at PRAHS was important to me.

As a 1998 graduate, I had the privilege to study German with Frau Uscola. Not only were her classes among the most enjoyable for me, they were also among the most useful in shaping my life. I obtained an advanced degree in the humanities (art history) and knowledge of German was essential. As an undergraduate, I obtained a minor in German Studies and my coursework at PRAHS formed a foundation for this. During my undergraduate and graduate careers, I traveled to Germany for academic reasons. My language abilities earned scholarships to make this possible. In graduate school, I was required to show proficiency in German. I was the only one in my group who passed without recommendations for further studies. Maybe a pattern is emerging here?

The sad thing is, that if I were beginning high school as a freshman in 2009, I may never have had these experiences. In order to attend a four-year college in Minnesota, an aspiring student must take two years of a foreign language. I believe students deserve some choice in the language they ultimately pursue.

The cancellation of German hurts me more deeply than as a loss for future students of something that could change their lives. It is more personal than that. In 1973, my mother came to Park Rapids from Menomonee Falls, Wis., to become the first German teacher PRAHS had seen in several years. She witnessed how frustrating it was for students who had studied French the year before have that language dropped from the curriculum. At the age of 22, she began to teach students the joy of the German language. Linda Uscola continued the program almost 30 years. Rather than let this wonderful program die, why not pass it on to someone who will continue in this vein?

Carla DeVore, Eugene, Ore.