International Voices at UMSL

Liane Constantine

Liane Constantine, Germany
Interim Executive Director, UMSL Global

How long have you been at UMSL?

Almost five years

Besides English, what languages do you speak?

German, some basic Russian, Swedish, Korean

What books, music, movies, or food from your country would you recommend to a friend from the United States?

This is a wonderful question! Germany has such a vibrant young scene for artists and writers. For music, I would recommend Andreas Bourani, whose lyrics capture the thoughts of Germany's young generation with ease and narrative talent, combined with a cool beat. For literature, Benedikt Wells is like a young "John Irving of Germany". One of his recent novels Hard Land covers the life of a young Missourian in small town Missouri, can you imagine?!

Food is always exciting and so much fun to try out in different places: I will borrow my 10year old son's favorite German foods, available only in Germany -- spaghetti ice cream, and bratwurst with white asparagus.

What is one thing you expected about St. Louis or the United States that wasn’t actually true?

This question has taken me a while to think about... since I did not really have a set of expectations, but I guess Americans are sometimes seen as very "individualistic" people and I found that family values seem to be really written in capital letters in St. Louis and in the region. Along the same lines of "assumed/expected individualism" I have been extremely impressed with the readiness of Americans to help others and to engage in charity opportunities on so many levels, that I clearly see as an impressive sign of "community thinking".

What is something about your home country that would surprise Americans?

Germans sometimes have a reputation for being very focused on values like being punctual and following rules more strictly than others. Coming to America it actually feels the other way round for many of us, including myself.

What advice would you give to someone from your home country traveling to the United States for the very first time?

I believe the United States is a wonderful country to visit, especially for Germans who are into outdoor activities, there is just so much to discover. Like for every other country, I always recommend an off-the-beaten track portion of their visit. I myself have been super excited to discover the many hiking and boating opportunities in Missouri, that - unlike more popular US destinations - are easily doable even if you are not a professional mountaineer.

What made you choose UMSL?

UMSL has always had a strong international mission and I enjoy being able to be an active part of it.