The German Ambassador to Ireland, her Excellency Frau Deike Potzel, visited the students of Midleton College on Tuesday 12 February on the request of student, Laura Cosgrave. Laura represented Ireland last year at the International German Olympiad in Freiburg, the largest German language contest in the world. The fifth form student was one of two students to represent the country at the event which saw students from 72 countries compete.
Last October Ms Cosgrove was invited to attend a function at the German Ambassador’s Dublin residents and Tuesday was the result of a return invitation. The Ambassador was accompanied by her aide, Frau Cornelia Luck, and they were welcomed by German teacher Frau Melanie Henry, Dr Gash School Principal and Laura Cosgrove. The dignitaries were welcomed auf Deutsch by Dr Edward Gash, Principal, including invited parents with a connection with Germany, students of fifth and sixth form studying German, History and Politics and Society.
The event also accorded the Secondary School the opportunity to celebrate the students’ interest in Germany, the German language and culture. For the past decade the college’s student body have taken part in a cultural and language exchange programme between both countries and attended workshops and projects involving other schools and institutions, such as UCC and the Goethe Institute.
Frau Potzel, in her key note address, spoke of living under Communism rule in East Berlin and life after the wall came down in 1989.
Her Excellency also spoke of the significance of cultural exchange, the lifelong benefits of having German as a second language and the need for gender balance in education and politics. There are 300 German companies in Ireland employing over 20,000, and there are currently 1,000 vacancies for German speakers here. Without enough German speakers in Ireland it’s proving to be more and more difficult to attract native Germans, as the job markets in Germany and Austria are experiencing a major boost domestically.
Acknowledging the current difficulties surrounding Brexit she highlighted the importance for Ireland to rely on its European partner, and our need to grow other markets. Frau Potzel said if it turns out that agriculture here is hit hard by our main trading partner leaving the EU, there should be some sort of a support mechanism put in place.