"Herr" A. Daniel Ruth
Herr Ruth and students making Apfelpfannkuchen
Students have frequently asked if I was born in Germany or when I started learning German. I am not German. I am half Scottish and almost half English. My father's mother was partially American Indian but only about 10%. My decision to learn German came about after a group of missionaries visited our church youth group. They told our youth group about a youth exchange between their mission church in the Philippines and their other sponsoring church in Ohio. They said that five students (two American students living in the Philippines and three Philippine students living in Ohio) were learning and experiencing so much.
Their program motivated me to ask my father if I could participate in an exchange. My father said that I could and then we debated "where". Because I was interested in engineering and architecture we decided that I should pursue German. The beginning of my ninth grade year found me sitting in Mr. Tully's German I class. I decided to graduate a year early and go to Germany. We did not know that I would fall in love with the country, the culture and the language.
At the end of my exchange year I decided to enter Purdue and major in German and world history. My Junior year found me once again studying in Germany at the University of Hamburg. The next year I completed my final semester at John Marshall High School in Indianapolis, where I student taught under Brice Tressler. The next fall I started teaching at Michigan City Rogers High School. From my first day as a teacher I have tried to share my love for the German language and the German culture with my students. I have tried to teach them that "German" is not just "Germany" but also Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. German immigrants have also made significant contributions to our American culture.
In 1979 my students finally succeeded in getting me to start an exchange program with Germany. In 1979 and 1980 we exchanged through the School Exchange Service with the Thomas Mann Gymnasium in Munich. From 1981 to today we have been exchanging with the Schyren Gymnasium in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm. In roughly 1983 the German American Partnership Program was "signed" into life by President Reagan and the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl. Our program moved under GAPP's guiding arm. Pfaffenhofen is a quickly growing small city just north of Munich. It lies just 2 hours north of the Alps.
By the way, I taught English for a year at the Balthasar Neumann Gymnasium and the Faschoberschule in Marktheidenfeld, Germany. Not knowing that the "Wall" was just about to crumble, I applied for a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Year early in 1989 and went there for the 1990-1991 school year. What an experience!