One of UAHS’ German and French teachers gives insight into her love of teaching and travel.
By Josie Stewart, ‘21
“When you have a longing to go somewhere … the German word is wanderlust. Growing up, I always had this feeling—I didn’t feel at ease. Where I was didn’t feel right in my skin. So my dream was always to travel.”
Julia Voegt-Brooking, known to students as Frau or Madame V-B, grew up in Germany and has since traveled around the world, taking inspiration from each place she’s been and now offering them to her students in the halls of UAHS.
When walking into her classroom, the walls are plastered with maps of Germany, posters of France and chalkboards covered in effortless cursive in both languages.
Her knowledge of language does not end there. Besides English, French, German and an understanding of Latin, V-B also can speak Portuguese, Italian, Classical Chinese, Modern Chinese and started to learn Thai.
“[I learned these languages] because I always wanted to travel,” V-B said. “That was always my dream.”
Although V-B traveled extensively throughout high school with exchange programs and leaves UA frequently during holidays, she has remained at UAHS through the years.
“I don’t want to [give up teaching],” V-B said. “[My daughter] always says, ‘Oh, get another job. You’ll earn more money [doing] something else.’ The problem is, I don’t want another job. I love what I’m doing. It’s never boring. I have something new every day.”
V-B arrives at the school early each morning and makes herself available as much as possible for her students, only proving her love for teaching.
“With a lot of jobs, you wake up in the morning and think ‘Ugh, do I really have to go to work?’ Yes, sometimes I would like to sleep a bit longer, but it’s not that I would ever say ‘I don’t want to.’ You get something so nice, like the other day when [students] said to me, ‘I’ve learned so much.’ That made my day,” V-B said.
As a child, V-B dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, but developed a dream of teaching after tutoring other students at a young age. She also attributes her current job to a few of her teachers growing up who inspired her.
“I think respect is extremely important [in a teacher]—that you respect who a student is and what they bring to the class,” V-B said. “When you come from a European background, you teach a little differently. You’re more direct because I think it’s so much easier dealing with directness.”
Beyond her love of teaching, V-B’s hobbies and activities clearly reflect her past travels and life. Aside from traveling, V-B spends her weekends exploring markets with friends, watching Bollywood movies and talking with her European relatives.
“I spend a lot of time on the phone with my daughter and my family,” V-B said. “In the summer, I spend more time at the markets and sit in cafés and talk to people. I spend a lot of time with my friends as well because I don’t have family here. Your friends become your family.”
Although V-B plans to leave UA when she retires, her time is now spent with her friends who she considers family and the UA students with whom she has cultivated these same relationships, sharing her life and love of teaching to each student she has.