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Moravian College senior Leigh Caruso presents research conducted at the University of Erfurt
(Bethlehem, Pa.) – “When I first met her, I thought she was German,” remembers Patrice Good, a freshman German major at Moravian College. “I grew up in Germany, and she spoke such fluent German. I really thought she was from Germany.” Good is referring to American-born Leigh Caruso (Saylorsburg, Pa.), a Moravian College senior who spent her junior year at the University of Erfurt in Germany conducting research for her honors project, “Moravian Communities between 1727 and 1757.”
Caruso recently presented the highlights of her research to the Moravian College campus community at an international brown bag lunch program, sponsored by Moravian’s Office of International Studies.
Caruso, a German major and art minor, started her honors project in the spring of her sophomore year. After doing some basic research through the Moravian Archives, Caruso went to Germany in October 2003 in pursuit of more information about early Moravian communities. “I chose this topic because of things I studied in classes at Moravian,” says Caruso. “I was able to combine my major in German with my interest in history.”
Caruso arrived in Germany unaware of just how hard it was going to be to find books and information to support her project. “I only found four books that had information I needed,” laments Caruso. “I had to have my sister send me sources from home.” Finding the right books and materials to support her research was only the beginning of Caruso’s troubles. Translating texts that were over 200 years old proved to be a definite test of Caruso’s language skills.
“I took four years of German in high school, which were not particularly good years, and I took two semesters of German at Moravian before I went to Germany,” says Caruso. “I knew a limited amount of ‘modern’ German before I went, but I had to learn older German to make sense of what I was reading.”
Although she struggled to find information for her research and to learn the German language at the outset, Caruso returned home with a strong grasp of the language and culture. In fact, she even feels German at heart. “Erfurt is still very much a part of my life,” says Caruso. “I went back over spring break, and the people still knew me. I feel a sense of belonging, and I feel most comfortable there. It was hard to come back here.” Caruso is planning to return to Erfurt after graduation. She has applied for a Fulbright Fellowship to study European History.