Ihave been learning and speaking German for the past 27 years now. It’s getting there; can’t complain as I am happy with my progress, eh?
Anyway, how did I get to be interested in German, Germany and Europe? It’s a long story that goes way back to 1972 in Bandung, Indonesia: each Tuesday, the local television station aired a German learning program called GUTEN TAG! WIE GEHT’S? It means, “Good Afternoon! How are you?”
The program was so simple for speakers of other languages to learn German; it was so much fun with all kinds of activities that viewers can follow.
I was only six years old back then. However, I really enjoyed the program and was fascinated by all those wonderful views of Germany.
While watching the program and learning the language, I pictured myself in a hustling and bustling area of Frankfurt’s Business District with Herr Braun as my guide. The next time, I imagined myself in a boat over the famous river, Der Donnau (An der schoenen blauen Donnau) or The Blue Danube.
Ten years later, in 1982, my mother enrolled me in a twice-a-week German course in Goethe Institut Bandung, Indonesia. I studied there for four years.
From learning German, I have clear pictures about most European countries. About their landscape, rich culture, heritage, customs, traditions and their everyday life and struggle.
Honestly, reading Der Spiegel was a struggle, but the reward was priceless as I can see Europe through German lenses.
Life sure has all kinds of strange twists and turns. In 1995, I met my husband, a Canadian geologist who at that time worked in Indonesia. We got married in 1996 in Canada and, ever since, I was a northerner (or a Yukoner to be precise) as we moved to Whitehorse.
My husband’s extended family lives in England. We visit them regularly. However, I have not seen the rest of Europe.
As the years passed by, I began to realize that Canada and the Yukon has a close-knit relationship with Germany. I often sit at Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport just to see the Condor Airlines plane land. I wish that my family and I could be in that plane one day.
I never thought a single bit, that my German would be useful here in Canada. Yet I use it often from a simple greeting like Guten Tag! Wie Geht’s? on Main Street, to helping German tourists and to translating for my husband when he wants to communicate with the German-speaking people all around Canada or the Yukon Territory.
From my neighbours, who are German-speaking people, I have an idea of how wonderful Europe is. I wish that someday I could take my husband and daughter there to the magnificent paths of the old-time rich and the invigorating history of Germany, France and Italy … to the land of children’s fairy tales told by Hans Christian Andersen in Denmark … to the rich traditions of Scandinavian countries … or to simply enjoy the companionship of friendly European people over their delicious gourmet food.