Webster Alumna Makes Her Way to Germany For New Position

Oct. 7, 2013

Webster Alumna Makes Her Way to Germany For New Position

ST. LOUIS, October 7, 2013 - For many alumni like Rachel Bryant, her network at Webster University became an invaluable resource for launching her career.

“I went from scrubbing coffee stains out of my apron, wondering why I chose to study social science to trying not to get coffee stains on my suit, balancing on the exercise ball in my office with a view of the U.N. headquarters, and I owe that to my Webster connections,” said Bryant, a 2011 graduate who majored in German and American Studies.

Bryant is currently living in Weimar, Germany and working for the organization, “Aktion Suhnezeichen Friedensdienste” (ASF), otherwise known as “Action Reconciliation Service for Peace.”  ASF was established after World War II to help Germany reconcile with countries and people damaged after the war. Its mission is to combat “racism, discrimination and social exclusion” by leading a variety of social projects throughout various countries.

Bryant's new role is based at a former concentration camp, the Buchenwald memorial site, where she is working in the archives and leading tours of the site that later became a Soviet internment camp.

“I think ASF is a great opportunity for me to take part in global community service and to make a stand for peace and tolerance in a way that sharpens my understanding of German history and cultural exchange,” said Bryant, who most recently lived in New York City.

“Two years in New York City was enough and it seemed silly to continue working for German programs having never spent more than two weeks there myself.”

Through Bryant's internship with Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), she played an important role in bringing a German student to study at Webster's St. Louis campus this year, which is a program the University hopes to continue.

Since her graduation in 2011, Bryant feels indebted to the connections she made with faculty, staff and other students at Webster University.

“I studied German and American Studies, and I am actually working in my field at a company I sincerely respect,” she said. “I don't know of many other schools with the kind of staff that would care enough to continue helping me so much after I graduated.”

Buchenwald Memorial

She initially heard about an internship with DAAD, (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst), also known as the German Academic Exchange Service, through Paula Hanssen, associate professor with the International Languages and Cultures Department. She later went on to get the internship with Cultural Vistas and the Goethe-Institut too.

“Rachel worked at the UC, and was very involved with campus events and groups; she attended our German cultural events and the Society for International Languages and Cultures events too,” Hanssen said.

“Rachel also studied in Vienna and got to know the campus and a group of students there. She took advantage of every opportunity to have new experiences, and was able to build a large group of skill sets, as well as a network that she could learn from as well as connect with after graduation.”

At DAAD, Bryant mainly helped with the selection and processing of applications for the Young Ambassadors Program, a program for undergraduate students from North America who have recently studied in Germany and are interested in promoting studying in Germany at their own universities or colleges.

It was through DAAD that Bryant found out about the position with Cultural Vistas and the Goethe-Institut.  The Goethe-Institut promotes German language and culture across the globe. She worked part-time in the Institut's café and gallery, preparing the space for art exhibitions, performances and meet-ups. At Cultural Vistas she served as a program specialist for CBYX for Young Professionals, which entailed different projects throughout the year. One of the projects included finding colleges and universities to host participants from Germany. Then once the participants arrived, Bryant had to arrange their travel from New York City to their final placements with their host families across the US.

When she was given the opportunity to continue with Cultural Vistas, she decided it was time to move onto other opportunities.

“I considered staying with Cultural Vistas, as it's a great company and I would encourage all Webster students to look into their in-bound and out-bound opportunities,” Bryant said. “I believe it was just time for a new opportunity.”