Achievement Award 2016
AYF Alumni Return to the City They Love

A Teacher´s Goodbye

Time to say goodbye. Time to say thank you

By Frauke Janzen, AYF Teacher


Now, after 5 years of teaching German Film History for AYF, it is not only time to say goodbye but more than anything else to say thank you. First of all to Ulli who became a paternal advisor to me and of course to all the different RDs who guided and supported my work and me. But the most, for sure, I have to thank you – the students. Thank you for being patient when I was teaching for the first time, when I experimented on my course design, when I chose texts that were too difficult, when I overran the allotted time, when my assignments weren’t clear. You really taught me how to teach, how to react to your needs and questions. It is because of you that I feel secure in my teaching today and that I personally cannot imagine a greater job than being a teacher.

My course

We studied key moments of German cinema in my film class. We looked at 1920’s expressionist films, the objective, left-wing cinema of the Weimar republic, Third Reich film, “rubble movies” of the immediate post-war era, 1950’s “Heimatfilm”, the New German Cinema of the 1960’s through 1980’s, DEFA movie production in the GDR, post-Reunification comedies and at contemporary cinema. I aimed to discuss all movies in their political, historical, and social context, being aware of the fact that cinema always reflects a nation’s culture and its historically changing concepts of identity.

While this idea has always been the key principle, some structural and didactic elements changed throughout the years. Those changes did not come out of the blue, but as a reaction to you, your discussions, your opinions, your questions and impressions.

Looking back

Everything was completely new to me in the first term I taught in 2011-2012. I had just handed in my master’s thesis. For the first time I had to explain German film history – something that up to then had been explained to me. The year after I mixed up my course more and added different films. The most interesting change was in 2013 when I taught my seminar „Stadt Land Fluss – Deutsche Orte im deutschen Spielfilm“. This course was an experiment to me. It was a creative format I had not tried before and I was not sure if it would work out. I skipped my chronological structure for a more open and flexible view on German Film: while watching we traveled through German history as well as its landscape, Germany’s big cities as its small villages. This term I learned a lot about my own country and my culture and the way you, American students, perceive it.

After I trained as a writing assistant, in 2016 my course changed once more. In my final term I integrated reading and writing tasks into my syllabus and asked you to hand in a portfolio, a collection of mostly reflexive texts instead of a classical German Hausarbeit. Thank you for being open-minded and for trying out the online platform ILIAS; and thank you primarily for sharing your personal viewing experiences with me. This year I learned so much about course and assignment design as well as communication with students and I’m sure that once more you made me improve my teaching skills by your engagement in my class.


Over time I met so many fantastic people and I really would like to meet you again. I am curious to know what you have become, if maybe someone even went on to study German film. What does German film mean to you today? What do you remember from my class?

I remember a student who was fascinated by all the naked people in German films. I remember weekly visitors in HS 2006 who became aware of our seminar and asked whether they could join in on our screenings. I remember a trip to “Mehlwaage“ and a “Tatort“ from Dortmund – a  German “Kult“ you were unable to fully comprehend. I remember two students who returned enthusiastically from their first visit to the library, proud and motivated. I hope they are still fascinated by “real books” and remain critical of online sources :).  And I will surely remember our little event this year at which I said thanks and goodbye. It was a great pleasure to end this term and my AYF-time with an event like this: open to all AYF-students and friends. It was great to share our class experience with others, to show what we learned and did during the semester by some poster presentations and to give others some ideas of what German film is like. This has always been my mission and I hope it has become one of yours after we parted company.


First published in the Summer 2017 AYF Alumni Newsletter