Germany Roots Add Culture to GLSD

Paige Lesko

Every day, thousands of people immigrate to America in search of the “American Dream.”
Greater Latrobe German teacher, Herr Kiefer, is a prime example that dreams do come true. Mr. Kiefer is a native German who came to the United States in July 2004. Kiefer met the love of his life in his hometown of Unna, Germany, but little did he know, he would have a new home in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Transitioning between countries is no cake walk. Kiefer explains, “It depends. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes easy. The hard part was missing the German language, things I love about Germany like fresh baked bread and rolls, the historic town centers and a lot of other cultural aspects. Of course, I miss my siblings and my parents.” Many important factors go into living in a different country. Communication is key, therefore, the language barrier is a likely concern. “I had a lot of English instruction in Germany and being in an environment that forces you to speak English 24/7 was not a big deal,” Kiefer said. “However, dealing with two languages on a daily basis can be exhausting.”

Shortly after arriving in the United States, Kiefer and his wife were married in August of 2004. “Preparing for something like this doesn’t really happen, you sort of just go with the flow and immerse yourself in a new culture with the people you love,” Kiefer explained.
With love for linguistics and a will to succeed, Kiefer didn’t let the language barrier stop him in the slightest bit. In fact, he took the challenge as a new project that he would enjoy every second of. “ I always had a love for language learning and enjoyed learning English in my German high school. The language barrier was never a problem,” he said. Soon after immigrating, Kiefer started his studies at the Community College of Allegheny County while he worked at Panera Bread. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Point Park University in 2011 and he later added the German certification. Kiefer taught German in several school districts in the South Hills of Pittsburgh prior to his time at Latrobe.
School costs time and money and Kiefer understands this from his experience, “I probably would have tried to go to a college that offered me more scholarships, so I would have fewer student loans to pay back,” he said.

Kiefer enjoyed his college experience and all of the opportunities he experienced throughout his degree.
After searching for a full time teaching position, Kiefer was led to Latrobe to pursue his ideal career, a high school German teacher. “It was an attractive offer and I was very impressed with the school. I have always wanted to be a high school German teacher and this job was exactly what I was looking for.”

Kiefer is an asset to the Greater Latrobe Language Department and the school district as a whole. He connects with students and teaches them first hand German culture and language while guiding them and providing them with a safe, comfortable, and positive atmosphere.