Gianni a genuine German genius


Towfiq Tofail

Anna Gianni (left) and Bonnie Hamstra, junior elementary education major (right), talk about German club together.

Anna Gianni, junior communication major, discovered her affinity for foreign languages at an early age.

Initially, the 21-year-old was exposed to the basics of the German language due to her lineage. Her mother is German, and her father is half German and half Italian. Her parents would often speak German around her at home. Thus, Gianni breezed through four years of German in high school. Gianni admitted that the language was not difficult for her to learn.

In Gianni’s junior year of high school, she took part in a foreign exchange program in Kempen, Germany. Gianni exchanged places with the daughter of her host family, so while she was in Germany, the daughter stayed with Anna’s family in America.

“The exchange program was great for making friends,” Gianni said.

She found the program to be beneficial in terms of her education. By traveling to, and living in, Germany, she was able to experience German culture firsthand, heightening her communication skills. The two girls she met through the program have continued to stay in touch with her and they remain very close friends to this day, according to Gianni. She said that the two girls will be attending her wedding this October as well.

In her freshman year of college, Gianni tested into German 202. However, she was troubled by the fact that there were not any higher level German classes. Gianni said that she knew she wanted to help keep German going as a language offered at PNW and bring German club back to the university.

Anna Pajak, visiting instructor of German and the advisor of the German club, helped Anna accomplish these goals. Pajak and Anna worked together for two years to generate interest and enough number to bring the German minor back after it had been dropped when PNW’s Hammond campus was Purdue Calumet. This year, they were able to get German 365 approved by the university, the first 300 level German class in five years.

For students who want to learn more about Germany’s history and culture, Gianna stated that the German club is perfect for “language-learning in a laid-back environment, gaining cultural awareness and meeting new people.”

Since Gianni spearheaded the German club, she is now the president. She also recruits, runs the Facebook page and conducts meetings.

German is also not the only language Gianni is taking. She is also currently involved with French, Polish and Spanish. Gianni said it is fairly common for the members of the German club to be involved with more than one foreign language.

“When people have an interest in language itself, they have cultural awareness,” Gianni said.

Gianni said she hopes to plan a big event for the German club this semester.

“We had a successful history event last semester, and we plan on doing it again on a grander scale, and we are opening it up to other campuses,” Gianni said.

Gianni also enjoys taking care of and riding horses. She has been showing horses ever since she was little, and she has recently received two new additions to her family, Maddie and Annabelle. Gianni is also a 4-H Club Leader, which she said also requires good leadership, management and organization skills.