The Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies (GICS)
is a progressive community-based and community-supported nonprofit
educational organization, founded in 2006, and directed by Marion Gerlind, Ph.D.


Click here to learn more about our Institute’s symbol, the Linden Tree.


Marion Gerlind, Ph.D.
  • Founder and Executive Director
  • Teacher and Scholar (Curriculum Vitæ)
  • Facilitator and Writer
Dr. Marion Gerlind, photo by Kerry KehoeI am passionate about my mother tongue, German: its sound, complexity, and precision. Working with students makes me happy because I enjoy communicating and learning across languages, cultures, and differences. Coming from a metro city like Hamburg, I have always been curious to read and dialogue about meaningful experiences in life. For nearly 20 years I have taught German language, literature, and culture at college and community settings in Germany and the United States. After receiving my M.A. in German at San Francisco State University, I achieved a Ph.D. in German, with a Minor in Feminist Studies, at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

My dissertation interpreted oral histories of Jewish Holocaust survivors from Germany and Poland, focusing on women who came from working-class and rural poor families whose voices were “off the record.” Integrating my scholarly and creative writing with teaching, I use language as a tool to express thoughts and emotions, to connect with others, and to contribute to healing in the world.

I am especially interested in German cultural studies of the 20th and 21st centuries, including the Weimar Republic, Third Reich, Holocaust, Eastern Europe and post-World War II literature. Of all these subjects, I am particularly interested in women’s and other underrepresented populations’ writing, oral history, popular culture, and film. However, I love teaching every period of German literature and history as well as all levels of German language classes. I support students in meeting their educational goals, be it fluency in speaking and reading, mastering grammar and writing, translating, passing exams…you name it! I am dedicated to making your studies fun and as easy as they can be while leading to your success!

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  • Web design
  • Vice President and Technical Director
  • Co-sponsor of Filmnacht

JB is the owner of DRAGA design, a computer consulting and design company, in Oakland, CA. She has been involved in the computer industry for over 30 years, and a German student for nearly as long! Her B.A. in Theatre (minor in English Literature), from Fordham University prepared her for a lifelong love of the arts, language, and literature.

In her role as technical director, her responsibilities include design and maintenance of the GICS web presence, promotional materials and marketing, as well as documenting events through photography, video-recordings, and video editing. JB is currently editing the Oral History video recording backlog and creating an accessible online archive.

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Birgit Hafermann
  • Translations

Birgit HafermannBorn in Trier and raised in Lower Saxony, I went on to study Social Work and found both joy and challenges in the mental health field. Even though I am still fascinated by the human psyche, I have been working with dogs for the past 16 years.

I have translated the book Art as Resistance by Bernd Langer (published by LBC books in Berkeley, 2014), the descriptions of the science experiments of the Exploratorium in San Francisco for the German version of the museum in Wolfsburg and various correspondence by and about Holocaust survivors and their families.

I've been living in California for around 25 years and am grateful for the opportunity to keep up with my German language skills at the Gerlind Institute Klönschnack. The Gerlind Institute is such a unique organisation in that it does not only further students' skills of the German language, but connects people from all walks of life in the spirit of open mindedness, curiosity and mutual respect and learning for life!

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