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Superheld des Monats – Suzanne Dinter Von
The office angel originally hails from the big island across the Channel.
Sometimes foreigners come to know and appreciate the culture of their new homeland better than the natives who have always lived there. Suzanne Dinter is one such person. A love affair with deutsch began in Suzanne’s high school in South East London and continued through her university studies and then reached its highpoint in Germany’s most romantic city, Heidelberg. Suzanne loved Germany, the culture and language. “I preferred it to French”, she admits proudly. So much so that she decided to come back here the day after her university graduation. And that was twenty years ago. “I initially went to Heidelberg University on exchange for one semester and loved it. That is where I ended up meeting my husband. I knew I was coming back to Germany after my studies were over, but I probably would have gone to Cologne. Instead I ended up in Kassel,” says Suzanne.
Say what you mean and mean what you say
The direct nature of the German language and German people was a major draw card for Suzanne. “What you see is what you get – you speak it as you write it. I also like the German mentality. It is, however, sometimes a little too direct and there could be more consideration for others.” She goes on to say, though, that in speaking German she feels “free to be myself. I am a direct person and can be free to speak how I feel”. The treading-on-eggshells approach and extreme politeness of the Anglo culture is something that she concedes is not really her cup of tea. Although, she is a dedicated tea drinker, but it’s PG Tips only for Suzanne.
Yet, for expats who have lived abroad for some time, there comes a point when you simply cannot deny your need to speak your Muttersprache and for Suzanne that point came when she had her first child. “I avoided speaking English for the first 10 years I was here. I desperately wanted to improve my German so I just didn’t have contact with English speakers. Yet having kids gave me a need to start speaking English again.” We all know that feeling, that just because you are American, British or any nationality for that matter, it does not mean you will necessarily get on with your fellow country men or women when you are living abroad. In Suzanne’s words: “I get on with people full stop, rather than where they are from”. However, 6 years ago, Suzanne started going to Kassel’s largest English speaking Women’s Stammtisch at the Latin American restaurant, Casa Columbiana, and took over coordinating the related International Family & Friends Group Kassel 4 years ago. She herself is surprised at how many English speakers have ended up in this town.
Many of these English speakers are also language trainers at NATIVES. Suzanne has found the perfect job as office manager – a job with a lot of responsibility right from the beginning. She just “gets on with it”. Just like this year, when she took the reins to organise the NATIVES 10th anniversary party and the recent NATIVES office move to new premises in Kassel.
She may be the office angel, but she is also a wonder woman of sorts – and funnily enough, is currently reading “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore on her Kindle. It’s a recount of the creator of the comic character and the beginning of the woman’s suffrage campaign of the early twentieth century.
This article was written by guest author, Petra Zlatevska.