Fellowship award earns student a year of studying, working in GermanyUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Assistant Professor, Languages and Literature of Europe and Americas
UH Mānoa German major Hayley Hanta recently earned the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals fellowship, awarded by the U.S. Department of State and supported, in large part, by the German Bundestag (legislative body). Hanta, who is also majoring in Geography, will live in Germany for a year, beginning in July, as a participant in the work-study program with a cultural exchange focus. Hanta will undertake two months of intensive German language training, study at a university, and intern at a German-speaking workplace.
Recalling her first experience in Germany while in high school, Hanta said, “My German language training at that time had been very minimal, and most of the time I could not flip through my dictionary fast enough to keep up with what was going on around me.” The experience made Hanta determined to have a different outcome this time around. While knowing the CBYX year will not be easy, she intends to return to Hawaiʻi as a more confident, grounded and well-rounded human being.
Why major in German? "I hope to gain a more comprehensive and intimate understanding of the world. Fluency in the language will greatly increase my personal, academic and professional possibilities," she said. Hanta also wants to play a part in strengthening relations between the U.S. and Germany, important allies, she notes.
Her Geography focus will provide her a thorough understanding of human and environmental processes, which she believes will help her identify problems and develop effective long-term solutions. “To that end, my professional goal is to work at the intersection of humanity and the natural world. Specifically, I would like to help mitigate the effects of climate change and develop hospitable environments for those affected by it," said the Hawaiʻi Kai resident.
Hanta was selected from 614 applicants, of whom 150 were interviewed and 75 ultimately selected. “It is impossible to say with certainty why I was chosen, but I am sure being from Hawai’i helped and it is possible that my goals and ideals fit well with the program’s basis in public diplomacy," she said. "I did meet a few of the other applicants at the German consulate in San Francisco where my interview was held, none of whom I perceived to be any less qualified than myself. However, I was the only applicant who was required to fly across the ocean to attend the interview.
"Therefore, I was determined to make the trip worth my while and was almost surprised at the level of confidence and authenticity with which I was able to conduct myself in front of the panel. I must acknowledge my German professor, Christina Gerhardt, who encouraged and supported me every step of the way, for which I am eternally grateful.”
The College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature (one of the four Arts & Sciences colleges) of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa offers a broad curriculum in English, foreign and heritage languages and literatures, second language studies, and linguistics. Its Asia and Pacific focused curricula is unique in the nation. The faculty regularly teaches more than 25 languages, and has the capacity to teach many more.
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