Shuxin Chen, Internship report. 实习报告：
As a student of the University of Heidelberg, it might sound ridiculous that he/ she does not know who the founder and who the headmaster in presence is. Also, it is me in the past semesters. I believe there are many foreign students studying at Heidelberg University do not know about it, either. Heidelberg University Archives did offer me a chance to get more familiar with the oldest University in Germany. Weeks after being done with my relative short-term internship in Heidelberg University Archives, I started thinking over my time spent there.
Heidelberg University Archives was founded right after the foundation of the University, it grew and developed together with the University. All documents related to the University are well preserved in the Archives in different categories from the 14th century on. Studying American Studies, a major requiring skill to do research in different disciplinaries, especially for history, the internship in University Archives, in this sense, is of enhanced significance. There are considerable old documents related to the history of Heidelberg University, including correspondence between professors, faculties files, student files, pictures, film clips and many others, which are valuable to people who study history. And I felt inspired that I could have a chance to touch them with my hands.
My duties ranged from three main categories: collating and correcting of the categorized documents, answering emails about research queries on former professors or students, and translating homepage from German to Chinese. In between, working with the correspondence between professors who were related to the faculty of Eastern Europe history, I read every letter they wrote and summarized the key information, in which I gained a new perspective of the history after WWI and WWII in Europe. It brought me to know how influential of the previous historical events were on the seemingly segregated academic world. Besides, I also went through the files on Asian students at the Heidelberg University in the mid-20th century, presenting a rough picture of their lives at that time in my mind, which was totally different from today’s Asian students’ in Heidelberg. Reading and summarizing their letters written in Germany, I am aware of my poor German vocabulary must be extended. Fortunately, the staff always helped me when I did not understand what the letters were about. Though, if you are considering taking your internship at the University archive, it would be better that you mastered the German language.
Furthermore, the most exciting moment of my internship was searching files which the research queries needed in the “Magazin” underground. Every time I held the keys to unlock its door, I felt as though I was opening a treasure buried under the seafloor. “Magazin” was a basement filled up with old documents, containing files of former registered students, faculties, and previous university presidents. When I open the file- box in the basement, it resembles how historians unraveling the secret of the past. Turing from page to page of the student files, it made the oldest University in Germany more authentic to me.
Nevertheless, sitting all day long reading the past may not sound inspiring for people who are not enthusiastic about history. Therefore, I recommend taking the internship at Heidelberg University Archive for those who are obsessed with history.