Five minutes with Eckhard Rölz


Editor’s note: The “Five minutes with” series focuses on a different person each time. The interviewer spends five minutes speaking with a person each week to learn about them, their specialty or something they are passionate about.


Eckhard Rölz is one of two German professors at SDSU. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and began his career at SDSU in 2005. Rölz teaches all levels of German and global studies courses. He also leads study abroad trips to Germany most summers for students to study the German language. This summer, he will take students to Germany to work with Syrian refugees for three weeks.

Q:  What do you do at SDSU and how long have you been here?

A: I am one of the two German professors, and I have been at SDSU for 12 years. I teach all levels of German language, literature and cultures. I also teach global study courses once in awhile. There’s from beginners 101 all the way up to 492 literature courses, the 400-level that fourth year students take. So, I teach basically everything that we offer here at SDSU in the German Department.

Q: What will you do on the study abroad trip this summer?

A: Students will help young men, under 18, who are unaccompanied and live in group homes with about six to eight boys and a social worker.

The refugees do attend school in the morning, but in the afternoon they don’t have anything to do and receive about 50 euros a month to buy food and clothing, so their lives can get pretty boring. So what we do is, we spend time with them, and we do what they would like to do. Last year they played soccer, Jenga, volleyball and pool with the refugees.  Students and refuges will take small day trips, like to a castle.

We explore many German and European issues and on recent trips students did not have to know German. I am taking students to Germany and we will be working with refugees from Syria and 11 other nations. We will be taking care of and working with unaccompanied teenage boys who are lonely and miss their families. In the process, students will learn about conflicts in the world, why there are so many refugees in the world and what these boys have experienced in their short lives. It is important to remark that it takes most refugees two years to make it to Germany and they experience horrible things on the way. We also go on many excursions with the boys and so, our SDSU students get to see and experience Germany as well.

Q: Who’s sponsoring this trip?

A: The trip is all done through International Affairs and the German Department. It’s a special opportunity and as far as I know no one else has done this and no other university has done this. Unfortunately, this is the last time we can do this because it’s too much work for the people over there. There are about 50 people who work there, so, students will use their resources. But it’s a great opportunity and would be a life-changing experience for SDSU students. 

We still have one or two openings for anyone interested in this great experience and it is the last time I am offering it. Students do not have to know German since most of the boys either know English or want to learn English. This year our students will actually teach English to refugee boys. The trip will be from May 22 to June 13.