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American vs. German Beer and Other Comparisons: A Chat with Professor Peter Liermann

American vs.

German Beer and Other Comparisons: A Chat with
Professor Peter Liermann
Date 3/20/1997 12:00 AM | Topic:
Somehow I got it in my head that Professor Liermann
loves T-Bocks. So when we pulled
up in front of the bar in his efficient white Geo he said,
"Well, this is it, isn't it?" with a quizzical but patient
smile, I was a bit confused.
"I thought you came here every day for lunch ..

. don 't
"Oh, no. I go to the Diner every day. I've only been here once
or twice.

Well, we might as well go in!" he explained and opened
the door. I shrugged my shoulders, sighed at my ill-informed
presupposition, and entered.
His patience in dealing with preconceived notions is a practiced
one. As a native German permanently residing in the U.

S., teaching
about everything from the mystery of adjective endings to the human
capacity to commit atrocities, Liermann has extensive experience in
clearing up misconceptions.
He is, however, happy to oblige. We chatted for a while about
the differences in the European and American educational systems
and he said, to my surprise, that he prefers our system.

"I end up preferring the American system simply because it
leaves the student with more options in the long run. Most Germans
are better educated in that they end up having more facts to rely
on, but they're somewhat closed."
The differences that Liermann has noted between Germany and the

certainly do not end there. When I asked him what kind of
American beer he drinks, which I supposed he consumed with German
vigor, he replied, "Well, the one I'm drinking right now,
Leinenkugel's Red, is quite drinkable, but I don't drink much beer
"In that case, would you say that American beer and German beer
really compare?"

.no," he admitted, "Unless you get one of the individual
beers from a microbrewery in which instance you can really be in
luck. Overall, with large production you can really forget about
"Have you had a beer in the U.

S. and said to yourself, 'Wow,
that tastes like home,'" I punted.
"Nope," he said with a chuckle. "There are two things that I
feel I have to give up being in the States: one is beer and the
other is bread.

In either case you have a hard time finding
substitutes. Even with so-called German bakeries, after they've
been here for a while, the bread just doesn't taste right. I keep
pushing that idea in my classes."
After discussing the subtler differences between German and
American culture, Professor Liermann went on to explain the
necessity of understanding another culture.

"Whatever you do abroad
will widen your horizons and make you question your own values. You
may confirm them, ultimately, but at least you question them and
simply realize that there are other ways of doing things and other
ways of thinking about things."
Liermann himself, as one might expect, studied in the U.S.

he was young. He came to the University of Colorado in 1959 with
the intention to study law. While he was working on his doctorate,
the University offered him a position teaching German because they
were one teaching assistant short. "That's when I discovered there
was something else in the world that I liked doing," he said.

went back to Germany and continued in law for a time but was soon
working as a German teacher at an American elementary school. He
returned to Colorado to get his
masters degree, and then went back to Germany to run a "host
nation" program for the American school system before ultimately
moving to the United States. "When I first came to the U.S.

was still, at least in my mind, the land of unlimited
opportunities or possibilities. I came to Colorado and
experienced western American culture in all of its openness, all
of the wide open spaces...

I fell in love with it," he said.
In addition to including cultural emphasis in his German
language classes, Liermann has taught a number of classes on World
War II, notably the J-term class "Hate, Holocaust and Hope."
Liermann believes his personal perspective aids in his teaching of
this subject. "Students learn best if they feel that the teacher is
really involved.

In my case, it's a deep concern with the fact that
this is the Holocaust, the Third Reich and World War II. They have
been, at least to some degree, my Experiences.it 's my country, I
lived at that time in Germany and I've seen a little bit, even as a
child. Students sense that connection and the fact that I'm
refusing to put on rose-colored glasses and say 'It wasn't all that
bad,' because, it was bad enough.

Professor Liermann has a very unique perspective on quite a
number of things. If you want an informed and thought-out opinion
on cultural interaction, Liermann will probably give you something
new to think about. Or, if you want to discuss the
nature of education or the long
reaching implications of the Holocaust, he's a good person to talk
to. Even if you want really good advice as to where to go to get
good beer, Professor Liermann can help.

If you do decide to ask him
about one of these things or anything else, take him to T-Bocks. I
think the place is growing on him.
Gretchen Lund
Chips Staff Writer

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