Name Amila Becirbegovic
Graduation year May 2010 (MA) May 2008 (BA)
Major German MA, German BA
Minor Justice Studies
What's your current job?
I am a PhD Candidate and German Instructor at the University of California, Davis. I teach beginning and intermediate German language courses, as well as upper-division German, Film and Human Rights content courses, from post-WWII German writers to contemporary genocides and Holocaust representations. I am currently finishing my dissertation, Mediated Memory: Visual Culture and Prosthetic (Re)Memory in Post-War Germany, which examines how contemporary generations remember the Holocaust through literature, comics and film and what impact popular visual remediation of the Holocaust has on current genocides and the refugee crisis.
How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?
In the German language courses that I teach I am able to access authentic German material, which is extremely beneficial and a skill that I can transfer to my students by bringing German language and culture alive through authentic texts. Likewise, in my upper division content courses I am better able to explain difficult topics and concepts because these ideas and histories are available to me as original sources in German, which authenticate my research and the content that I teach.
Did you study abroad? If so, can you speak about your experience?
I am originally from Europe and was born in Bosnia. After the onset of the Bosnian war, and as a consequence of the ensuing genocide, I was a refugee in Hannover, Germany from 1992-2000, before moving to Tempe, Arizona. I started my undergraduate and graduate studies at ASU, with a focus on Holocaust memory and a minor in Justice Studies. While I did not have the traditional study abroad experience, I certainly taught many German students at ASU who took advantage of the many wonderful study abroad opportunities and the exchange program with Regensburg, Germany. Many of my colleagues at ASU were also fellow instructors from Regensburg. The exchange program allowed for a more diverse representation of Germany, by introducing undergraduates and graduate students alike to students from southern Germany and showcased their experiences and expertise.
How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?
I always knew that I wanted to teach and the German program at ASU provided me with the opportunity to start my German teaching career. I was able to instruct various lower and intermediate division German language, grammar and culture courses. This was a truly unique educational experience and I greatly benefitted from being able to stand in the classroom as an independent instructor so early in my career. In addition to teaching German at ASU, I was also able to partake in many cultural activities on campus, from the weekly Stammtisch meetings, to German club events and the annual High School German language contest. The ASU German program instilled within me a sense of community and an appreciation for teaching German courses to undergraduates. I have now been teaching for over a decade and many of the pedagogical techniques and strategies that I acquired at ASU are still with me and accompany me into every new classroom and institution.
What was your favorite thing about learning a language?
Since I was already a German heritage speaker upon arriving at ASU I wasn’t necessarily looking for formal language training. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and value of the courses that I took and how much they added to my existing language foundation. In particular, Dr. Daniel Gilfillan’s upper division special topics courses, which were not only educational and rich in subject matter, but his passion for German history, visual and contemporary culture and the individualized attention and feedback that he invested in each student really motivated me to pursue German as a career. Besides the courses, which resulted in lifelong friendship with my fellow peers and even with the instructors, I benefitted immensely from the ASU community at SILC. The interdisciplinary nature of each program was extremely beneficial and fostered a collaborative atmosphere, where students could take classes from SILC faculty on various interdisciplinary subjects and be surrounded by many different languages, cultures and histories.