Emily Hansel in front of the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany.

I am always learning

NAME: Emily Hansel
HOMETOWN: Lombard, Illinois 
MAJOR: German Language and World History Teaching
CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT: Dance Marathon Diversity and Recruitment Chair, Wartburg Ambassador, Orientation Leader, German Institute Board

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: For the longest time, I was looking for big schools. I have a cousin that went to Wartburg, and when I was getting ready to schedule all my college tours, he told me that Wartburg had a really good German program. I come from a big high school, so a small college was very different. My mom and my cousin ended up booking a tour to Wartburg without me knowing, and we went to visit. I remember walking around campus before my tour and immediately I loved it. I then had a tour and met with the German professor, and it seemed like she was excited for me to come, and that made me excited. I liked the vibe, and I liked the community that was on campus.

WHERE DID YOU PASSION FOR GERMAN STEM FROM: I chose German in high school because my dad’s side of the family is German. One of my dad’s big things was he wanted me to connect with my family history. After my freshman year, I really enjoyed German, but I didn’t know what to do with it other than international business. However, I found out that helping and teaching the other students in my class was one of my strengths. I had a conversation with my German teacher at the time about how I loved German, and she told me I would be a great teacher. I ended up taking German all four years and did a bunch of student-led competitions. I made so many great connections with all my classmates, and I ended up doing an exchange program the summer of my junior year to South Germany. After that trip, I knew for sure that education in German was I was meant to do.

WHAT WAS YOUR STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE LIKE: Through the German program at Wartburg, I was able to get to know new people and explore different topics in German which was really exciting. I got the opportunity to go not once, but twice to study abroad in Germany. I love exploring and study abroad was right up my alley. Studying abroad for me turned from trying to navigate a new country, a new city, a new school, and not knowing most of my classmates in the beginning, to becoming friends with most of them and exploring. Studying abroad in May Term and during the semester, is something I don’t think you really get anywhere else. Having those people to make those connections with that made the experience so much richer was what made Wartburg stand out.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN GERMANY THAT YOU HAVE VISITED SO FAR:  Munich. That’s where I went my first time ever traveling to Germany. There’s something about Munich that’s very old and historic. You will be walking down the street and see so many little historical relics in the buildings or see churches that were built in the year 500. I love the culture and the fast-paced life in Berlin, but Munich was so historically German.

WHAT IS A HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR WARTBURG EXPERIENCE: Dance Marathon is a huge one. Last year when those numbers dropped and we raised $156,000, that was an amazing feeling. But I also think it’s just the little moments, like when my friends and I spend time in the Mensa just laughing over nothing and having a good time or getting to know new people. It’s also the people that always come to mind. I can’t do half the things I do without all the amazing people that are at Wartburg. 

WHAT DOES DANCE MARATHON MEAN TO YOU: Coming to Wartburg, I felt very strongly doing Dance Marathon because I lost my best friend to cancer my sophomore year of high school. It was difficult for not only us and the rest of our friends, but especially for her family struggling to pay for things like food, hospital bills, or even parking passes. I saw the impact that Dance Marathon had at Warburg and the kids specifically and that was something that really hit home for me. I knew that if her and her family could get through it and be so strong, and we could get through it, then we can have the strength to help these kids gets through that too. That’s my “why” as we call it in Dance Marathon. I put in as much as I can for the organization and try to provide leadership when I can. For reference, last year we had almost 400 participants and we raised around a $156,000. What we do at Wartburg is something special.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF WHILE AT WARTBURG: I learned that I am always learning. I can never stop. I’ve been a part of various organizations and learned something from all of them. Being a part of Orientation Staff, I’m always learning on how to engage another population of students and individuals in general. For Ambassadors, I’m always learning where buildings are or interesting facts and events that are going on around campus. With Dance Marathon, I’m always moving, changing, and inspiring, so that is the biggest thing I have shown in my leadership. I can always keep learning and I will never stop.