Starting this year, Monmouth College is combining forces with Knox to offer a wider variety of courses to students’ attending either institutions. Monmouth students are now given the opportunity to take German language courses at Knox, while students at Knox are able to take Portuguese language classes at Monmouth.
The idea was introduced when a group of Monmouth students expressed interest in taking German language classes. Among the group is junior Samuel Dummer, whose German heritage influenced his interest in the language. He expressed disappointment when informed that Monmouth does not offer German courses, despite allowing students to test out of the course.
Dummer and his classmates spoke to their Foreign Language office, wrote letters to faculty members and met with their Foreign Language Department Chair, Tim Gaster, in order to figure out a way that they could be able to take German language courses.
“One of my professors, my advisor actually, told me that if I wanted this to happen I should write a letter to the dean to address exactly why I felt there was a need for a German class,” Dummer said.
Associate Professor of German Todd Heidt described that the bilateral program that has since developed has mutually benefited both campuses in giving students opportunities to which they might not otherwise have access
“I think it was part of a larger attempt to think about how the two campuses could cooperate more, to enrich offerings on both campuses,” Heidt said.
Heidt emphasized the fact that studying a foreign language is an important factor in a college education, and is immensely helpful for employment, internships and studying abroad.
The program provides opportunity for both Monmouth and Knox students to study a language they’re more passionate about and interested in, rather than taking a language just to fill a requirement.
Anna Brown, a freshman at Monmouth, expressed that the two schools should take the opportunity to offer their best resources to enrich the educational experience of students attending each college. Though she wasn’t involved in the initial development of the program, she is appreciative of the benefits that have come with it.
“I have no interest in learning a dead language or a romantic language,” Brown said. “German is similar to other languages, so I felt like it would be more relevant.”
Currently, there are six students from Monmouth who come to Knox to take German classes, and just a couple from Knox who go to Monmouth to take Portuguese according to Heidt.
The six Monmouth students take two vehicles to make the commute to Knox, which are insured and financed by the college.
Both Brown and Dummer reflected that, despite the known rivalry between the two schools, they’ve received no animosity from classmates.
“Every now and then we jokingly put out the whole Monmouth-Knox rivalry,” Dummer said. “But it’s been a great time.”
Both Monmouth also noted slight differences between the two student bodies. Dummer described Knox students as seeming more “artsy,” while Monmouth students seem to have a greater diversity in terms of student archetypes. Brown also noted that students at Knox appear to be more outgoing than those at Monmouth.
Professor Heidt expressed that the two groups of students have been getting along as if they were all from the same school, and that there are no detectable differences between the groups aside from their spiritwear.
“I think I’m noticing now how often Knox students wear Knox t-shirts,” Heidt said. “Now that I’m seeing Monmouth students wearing Monmouth shirts in class next to them.”
Both the students and Professor Heidt are optimistic about the future of this program, and believe that it can significantly increase the opportunities available to both student bodies.