Campus News

Gerlinde Rickel Honored by Her Native Germany

Story posted March 15, 2002

Gerlinde Rickel, academic department coordinator for Philosophy and Latin American Studies, has been given one of Germany's highest civilian awards: the Verdienstmedaille (Medal of the Order of Merit).

The award, conferred by German President Johannes Rau, was presented to Mrs. Rickel by Dr. P. Christian Hauswedell, Germany's Consul General to the New England states, who traveled to Maine from Boston for the ceremony. The invitation-only event took place March 14 in Main Lounge, Moulton Union, on the Bowdoin campus.

Mrs. Rickel was recognized for her tireless efforts in promoting youth exchanges between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany for 14 years, as well as for organizing German-American cultural activities in Maine.

While Mrs. Rickel's efforts focus primarily on student exchanges in Maine, she has worked in cooperation with more than 45 schools in 12 U. S. states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri and Oklahoma. All told, she has helped to place over 380 students from Germany and the U.S.A. with host families.

Mrs. Rickel's devotion to the cause of international understanding and education doesn't stop once the children are placed with their hosts. She keeps in touch with the children she places throughout the school year and opens her own home to gatherings at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year as well.

"Being German in America is not just a nationality, it is a way of life, helping each other and relating news we get from overseas," Mrs. Rickel explains. "We have our bread shipped from Canada, our sausage from New York, Chicago and Arizona, our beer from Kappy's in Massachusetts, and our news from the Internet. There is nothing greater than to make young people understand other nationalities and their customs. The world will be a better place because of all the experiences and learning of our young people."

"There is no one more deserving than Gerlinde to be recognized for practicing international relations," said Renate Wiedenhoeft, organizer of the ceremony. "Individuals can - and do - make the difference, and I am so pleased and proud as a German-American that in Gerlinde we have such a warm and caring individual to represent our German culture. We are honored to have the Consul himself present the award in her own environment at Bowdoin College."

Gerlinde Rickel, a native of Stuttgart, Germany, has lived in the U.S.A. for over 40 years and resides in Topsham, Maine, with her husband, Donald. They have three daughters.

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