Professor’s teaching and advancement of German language honored

October 20, 2009

In the month of October when German-Americans commemorate their ancestry, Israeli-born Mohamed Esa, German scholar and professor of Foreign Languages, was named the 2009 Outstanding German Educator by the American Association of Teachers of German and received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his extraordinary service in promoting the German language. The Federal Cross of Merit, the highest honor a person can receive from the German government, was presented to Esa by Ambassador Klaus Scharioth at an Oct. 12 ceremony held at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Moreover during this symbolic week, Esa also celebrated the 15th annual German-American Day on campus Oct. 13 that draws more than 1,000 secondary-school students, their teachers and others interested in Germany and the German Language from the Greater Washington/Baltimore region.

This year’s theme, “A Word Without Walls: Berlin 1989-2009,” coincided with three historically significant events: 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, 60 years since the end of the Berlin Blockade, and 60 years since the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany.

For Esa, a Palestinian with dual Israeli and American citizenship, the path to peace involves, “embracing similarities, instead of focusing on the differences” between cultures. His language courses, study tours and festive dinners featuring world menus have earned him a steady following of students and off-campus speaking engagements.

Esa joined the faculty in 1994 and has served as chair of the Foreign Languages Department since 2007, the same year he was honored as the Zepp Distinguished Teacher. His innovative instruction methods and curricula are very popular among students and German teachers. His interdisciplinary course Kulturmetropole Berlin - "Cultural Metropolis Berlin" was recognized by the National College Board as one of the best German courses. Esa further distinguishes himself by sharing his curricula and experiences with other teachers.

A long-time active member of the German Society of Maryland, Esa also works to promote the German language in U.S. schools. With the support of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), 10 students in Maryland are recognized with a monetary prize each year for especially good test scores.

Ambassador Scharioth praised Esa, calling him a friend of Germany and the German language, and thanked him for his tireless commitment.

Esa will travel to San Diego in November to be formally recognized by the American Association of Teachers for outstanding achievement in furthering the teaching of German in schools in the U.S. The award, presented annually since 1989, recognizes personal innovation, talent, and leadership that reflect uncommon excellence.

Up to three awards are given yearly at the annual meeting: one to an elementary, middle school or junior high school instructor; one to a high school instructor; one to a post-secondary instructor.