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Superheld des Monats – Southern Comfort Von Petra Zlatevska
She may be a kind of German Mary Poppins – she’s looked after four children, just not in London. Rather, in the deep South of America sweltering it out in the heat and learning to understand southern drawls, y’all. She hails from Kassel. And her name is Julia, not Mary.
Julia’s love for America and American culture has southern roots. Her au pair experience in South Carolina inspired her to study a master’s in American studies. Now she is pursuing a PhD in American literature. Using the international bestseller “The Help” as her focus, she is looking at how sociology and psychology influence literature, particularly popular fiction.
Julia brings these unique literary talents and cultural sensibilities to her teaching work at NATIVES. In between researching and writing her dissertation, she is a business English and beginner’s English language trainer. She believes that “language transfer” is something that “I bring to everything I do – not just for my work.” Apart from the sifting out the stereotypes and clichés in language teaching, an integral part of language training for Julia is imparting inter-cultural competencies: “I try to get a cultural message across to my students and help them realise that the key to understanding and speaking a language is to understand its culture”.
As a German native speaker well-versed in American mores, which Julia points out is still quite different from other English-speaking countries, she has a sharp eye in noting the main differences between Germans and “Anglos”. She feels much of it hinges upon work culture: “The Anglo cultures are more laid-back, there’s an after work culture, whereas Germans always rush home after work rather than have a drink with their colleagues. Likewise, punctuality is a big cultural difference. Particularly in the southern states, friendliness is not superficial, despite what many people think. Chit-chat with a stranger in the U.S. is commonplace, whereas you would never do that in Kassel.”
Julia is so enamoured with the U.S. that she is heading there again for her summer break on a “Thelma and Louise” road trip that will take her to New York, Alabama, New Orleans and Mississippi, and involve lots of stays at road-side motels and typical southern-style diners with deep fried chicken, grits and cawfee (or Redbull, her other main addiction).
But her dog Willie, a stray dog originally from Spain that she found on Ebay, won’t be part of the trip, he’ll have to stay in Kassel.