Study Abroad or Foreign Study? Whatever you call it, spending a quarter or two (or even three) in another part of the world has remained a cornerstone of a Kalamazoo College education for decades. 2008 marked the program's 50th anniversary at "K," and October's Homecoming Weekend was chocked full of opportunities to celebrate this golden milestone.
Perhaps the most exciting of these opportunities was the arrival of eight emeriti resident directors, who came from Australia, France, Germany, and Spain to join the more than 850 Homecoming guests in reflecting on Kalamazoo's enduring program. Joe Brockington, Associate Provost for International Programs, arranged their visit, and the group included André Heintz, Sheila Klaber-Mendoza, Anne von Thaden-Schmidt, Franz Rexhausen, Alison Kreuzer '71, Maurice Faure, Wenda Focke, and Ian Fairnie.
Much like the journeys of Kalamazoo College students and alumni are a testament to the depth of longevity of "K's" Study Abroad program, so too are lives and careers of these directors, many of whom have worked with generations of "K" students.
André Heintz, resident director for the duration of the Caen program, holds the distinction of having worked with Kalamazoo College since the first group of "K" students sailed to Europe on the S.S. Arosa Star in 1958. In addition to having been a member of the French Resistance from 1940-1944, Heintz served as an interpreter for the British Liberation Army near the end of WWII. He is considered an expert on the French resistance movement and the events following the invasion of Normandy and has authored and co-authored many works on the subject. He continues to advise and guide visiting delegations, researchers, and student and tour groups through the area. In honor of his many achievements and long association with "K," Heintz was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kalamazoo College in 1990.
Sheila Klaber-Mendoza began her association with "K's" Madrid program in 1970 when she served as the assistant to then-director José Vidal. She became the program's director in 1988 and remained so until it moved from the Instituto Internacional in 1996. Born and raised in New Jersey, Klaber-Mendoza spent her junior year in Madrid as part of Smith College's Junior Year Abroad Program. She married and moved to Madrid after receiving a Master's degree from Yale University. Aside from one year spent in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she received a second Master's degree, she has lived in Madrid all of her adult life.
Anne von Thaden-Schmidt directed "K's" program in Hannover from 1971 to 1992. Raised in Berlin during WWII, von Thaden-Schmidt completed her studies in Germany and Poland and lived in Great Britain throughout much of the 1950s. After a number of years spent traveling around the world, she resettled in Germany and began teaching at Hannover University in 1969. Since her retirement, she has focused on English interpreting and translation. She is currently helping nuclear scientists at E-ON (the foremost supplier of energy in Germany) craft their lectures in English.
Franz Rexhausen, director of the Bonn program from 1973 to 2002, began his career in international education as, of all things, an engineer! Raised and educated in Germany, Rexhausen moved to California in 1957 to work on the construction of Minuteman rockets with Aero Jet. He continued his studies in engineering at Sacramento State College and, in the late-1960s, returned to Germany to complete his degree at the University of Cologne. A stint as a student worker in the office of the Lord Mayor of Cologne as a host for visiting guests and as the mayor's personal interpreter and translator for English led him to the University of Bonn, where he became Deputy Director of the Office of International Education. During his nearly 30 years in that position, he was responsible for "K's" program and also developed "Germany Today: Politics-Economics-Culture," an informational series on student exchange programs.
Alison Kreuzer '71 was drawn to Kalamazoo College because of the opportunity to study history and spend her junior year abroad. Having studied in Germany as a high school exchange student, she chose Münster as the site for her "K" foreign study. While there, she met her future husband, who then came to "K" as an exchange student during her senior year. They married in Stetson Chapel two days before her 1971 graduation, settled in Münster, and both pursued Master's degrees. Kreuzer worked with "K's" Münster program from the late 1970s to 1995, and she continues to advise the program for Luther College. In her free time, Kreuzer does volunteer work with refugees.
Maurice Faure holds the distinction of being the longest serving and most senior resident director of any Kalamazoo College program worldwide. Director of the College's program in Clermont since 1968, Faure began his career teaching German at the high school level and became a full professor at the University of Clermont in 1983. He has specialized in French, German, and general linguistics all of his professional life, and, in addition to his work with Kalamazoo College, has authored various articles and played a major role in the development of the DELF, a government-sponsored test which certifies competence in French language. He has also developed materials for German language education and organized academic exchange
Whatever you call it, spending a quarter or two (or even three) in another part of the world has remained a cornerstone of a Kalamazoo College education for decades.programs in Germany. The French Republic awarded him the title Chevalier dans l'ordre des Palmes Académiques in 1992 for his contributions to international understanding and furtherance of French language and culture.
Wenda Focke's professional life has taken her down many paths, including 12 years as director of "K's" program at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. She was born in Berlin in 1938, and her schooling took her to Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Leiden where she studied music, philosophy, German language and literature, psychology and graphic design. During her 26-year marriage to Dutch composer Fré Focke, the two performed at concerts and spent time living in the South of Europe, where she painted and designed. She spent 25 years teaching German in the Netherlands, followed by three years studying psycho-gerontology at the University of Erlangen- Nürnberg. In 1996 she took on the role of directing "K's" Erlangen program. She retired in 2008 and has since taken up freelance writing, translation, and psycho-gerontology.
Ian Fairnie became the first resident director for Kalamazoo's program at Western Australia's Curtin University in 1997. As Dean of Campus Community Life and Director of Curtin's Service Abroad Program, Fairnie not only worked with "K" students, but he also created numerous successful service learning opportunities for other American students and Curtin's many neighbors. In 1993 he nurtured the creation of Curtin Volunteers!, Australia's largest student-led service organization. CV! has gone on to establish the award-winning Laverton project in a remote desert Aboriginal community as well as John Curtin Weekend, which involves more than 600 volunteers working in some 250 rural communities every October. Though he recently retired from the university and as "K's" resident director, he still oversees some Kalamazoo College students' Integrative Cultural Research Projects and maintains contact with many of his former "K" students.
A special Homecoming Study Abroad Convocation in Stetson Chapel honored these program directors and two of their important colleagues at Kalamazoo College: former Study Abroad directors Richard Stavig and Joe Fugate. Alumni had the chance to meet and reminisce will all of these individuals at various points throughout the weekend - a highlight for the directors and their former students!
Pictured (L to R):
First Photo: Maurice Faure, Franz Rexhausen, André Heintz
Second Photo: Joe Fugate, Richard Stavig
Third Photo: Ian Fairnie, Sheila Klaiber-Mendoza
Fourth Photo: Alison Kreuzer, Anne von Thadden-Schmidt, Wenda Focke
by Madolene Stap