German Department Expands on Sisters’ International Literacy: Rachel and Rebekah Molloy
Written by Crystal Schupbach
Twin sisters Rachel and Rebekah Molloy had to travel across the globe from their home in Okinawa, Japan, to visit Hillsdale College as prospective students. Much more foreign to them than the idea of enrolling at the College was the prospect of becoming German majors once they got here.
“We knew five sentences in German total,” Rachel Molloy said.
“Oh—and we knew the chorus of ‘Silent Night,’” Rebekah added.
Four years later, they are fluent in German and both graduates of Hillsdale College’s class of 2017. Both were also top of their class—Rebekah, the salutatorian, and Rachel, third in the class. And both were German and English double majors.
“I guess when one of us finds something interesting, the other will find it interesting,” Rebekah said.
German majors must decide whether to follow the literature track or the language track in their studies. Both of the sisters fell in love with literature.
“Studying literature gives a really unique look at politics and culture,” Rachel said.
Another key step in cultivating an appreciation for the culture is studying abroad.
Professor Eberhard Geyer is chairman of the German department and director of the German study abroad programs at Hillsdale. He said Hillsdale sends fifteen to twenty students to study in Germany each year in two different programs, which Hillsdale’s three German professors administer, manage, and teach.
Rachel and Rebekah took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad when they visited the Goethe Institut and stayed with a host family.
Turns out, studying German is an interest that runs in their immediate family as well. Their younger sister Hannah, a sophomore at Hillsdale, has decided to minor in German. Their mother was also a German major.
“Foreign-ness has probably never been completely foreign to them,” Geyer said.
Moving frequently due to their father’s career in the Air Force, the sisters agreed that it felt strange to stay somewhere for so long and not move. They lived in Hillsdale longer than they’d lived anywhere besides Japan. Hillsdale became their home full of people ready to help them conquer challenges.
“Studying literature in another language is really hard. Everything is more critical. In addition, it helps you step back from the U.S. and allows you to have a vital perspective in understanding others,” Rebekah said.
The next steps in their lives are telling of this statement. Rachel is studying international affairs at Texas A&M University with a focus on diplomacy. Rebekah now attends Virginia Tech studying public and international affairs with a focus on governance and global security while working as a research assistant for the chair of the Public and International Affairs Masters Program.
“Even if they never use their German in a practical sense, they have international literacy. They have the means and the knowledge to go about learning other languages,” Geyer said. “…Studying the German language opens up another life. Many students, like the Molloys, are so good that they could live, work, or go to graduate school in Germany.”
The Molloys’ post-undergraduate pathways provide numerous ways to utilize the German language that Hillsdale’s German department helped them acquire in their four years here.
“Dr. Arnn always explains the word college as ‘collegium,’ meaning ‘working together,’” Geyer said. “Without their input and diligent, hard work, [learning German] would not have worked. Dedication was needed on both sides—from my colleagues and myself, and from them.”
Crystal Schupbach, ’20, is a Michigan native studying psychology and journalism. A few of her favorite things include dogs, summertime concerts, and garage sales–in that order.
Published in November 2018