Finding his roots
A scholarship student explores his German heritage

Jordan Kleist, ’19, prides himself on his German heritage and wants to know more about the place his ancestors called home. “Learning German has been a way to connect with a piece of my past,” he says, adding that he lived the first few years of his life in a southwestern Minnesota town where the local radio station still plays polka music.

In order to study the culture and become more proficient in the language, Kleist is spending the spring of 2018 studying in Austria at the University of Graz, which has an exchange program with the U.

A philosophy major who plans to go to law school, Kleist says the influence of German philosophers also played into his decision. “People spend every waking moment viewing the world through the lens of one language or another…The original language you learn impacts how you view the world,” he says. “To really understand how those philosophers viewed the world and conceived their ideas, I will need to study them in their original language.”

Kleist, who now calls Brainerd, Minnesota, home, says receiving the Frank D. Hirschbach Study Abroad Scholarship has been crucial to his being able to have this experience. “I was initially shocked and discouraged by the price of many study abroad programs, especially when I realized they didn’t include airfare or living expenses,” he says. “The Hirschbach Scholarship has made study abroad affordable, and with its support I’m even able to travel a little bit while in Europe.”