Dr. Simona Moti, one of three German Studies professors at Kalamazoo College, lives up to K’s reputation as a college with a focus on international experiences. She lived in Romania, Austria, Germany, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and a variety of locations in the US, from Irving, California to Kalamazoo.
During her experiences in these different locations she noticed “there was this effort and difficulty in communicating across cultural barriers.” She brings questions that address this issue to the classroom, posing questions like “how do we communicate across these cultural barriers?” or “what food and cities tell us about culture?” She finds the ability to discuss these questions in the classroom a powerful learning experience. These conversations bring students outside of their comfort zones, forcing them to think critically, and pushing them to learn.
“If you stay in your comfort zone, that is a great place to be, but there is not much growth there,” she says. “If you want to learn you need to push the boundaries of that zone. Live with uncertainty.”
Moti has pushed her own comfort zone as well. Dr. Moti has been changing locations since she came to the U.S. sixteen years ago, but since moving to Kalamazoo in 2013, she has learned to deal with frigid winters by embracing the cold while cross country skiing. In the summers, she and her family enjoy the warmth, taking time to explore the surrounding lakes.
Ironically, after her “nomadic” traveling, Dr. Moti sees her next big move, that will push her comfort zone, as settling down. She is looking forward to consolidating and building the communities she is involved in here.
What drew her to teaching and continues to fuel her love for her work is seeing students develop and grow. Dr. Moti advised her first SIP last year. She worked with a student who started German as a first year and graduated as a German major with an 80 page German SIP that received honors.
“I had no idea that I would have so much fun,” says Moti. “Can you imagine how gratifying it is to see a student coming in as a first-year and leaving as a senior?”