This is a special Tuesday. Today, we celebrate the retirement of my former professor Hans Wilderotter and this means that an era comes to an end. Now, I could take a nostalgic review because back in 1998 when I took museum studies this degree program was rather young, at least in Western Germany, the first graduates had just left the University of Applied Sciences “Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft” in Berlin. Many things were still in progress and it would be easy to glorify the good old days as a student, which would have presumably as little to do with reality as all the other good old school, post-war or any other days.
But there are things I took away from my studies, far from the professional aspects. Facts are just a small part of the taught contents, no matter if it’s a school, university or workplace. A more significant impact has the personality of the one who teaches on those who are learning. Said in a minor modification of Karl Valentin’s 1 remark: “Teaching people is useless, they will imitate you, anyway.” In spite of yourself you adopt certain quirks and idioms, adopt a certain way of seeing things or ways of solving problems. And if one of those adopted strategies lead to success, you are tempted to credit this to your own cleverness and experience. But if you are really honest and listen closely you hear the voice of a mentor. For some it is a Smith or a Miller, for me it’s an Einholz or a Wilderotter.
What they say in detail, I won’t reveal here. But I want to say “Thank You!” at this point. First of all of course to Professor Sibylle Einholz, who went into a well-deserved retirement last year, and to Professor Wilderotter. But also to all those around the world who took up the responsibility to teach people and who are passionately committed to it. That’s not only professors. There are teachers, trainers, masters or simply colleagues who pass on their knowledge and know-how. What separates you from the rest is the enthusiasm and passion for your profession as well as for the mentoring of others. How great your impact is will be realized by your students and mentorees much later – and it is likely that you’ll never know.
I wish to those who fill the shoes of my professors in the museum studies program in Berlin the same enthusiasm and courage, the same energy and eagerness to experiment but also the mental balance and endurance of their predecessors.
And of course, I wish all who have the possibility to take part in tonight’s celebration a great party and much fun!