Nathan Cannataro is the DAAD young ambassador for the University of Alberta. DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service in English) is an organization committed to improving cultural awareness and encouraging language acquisition between Germany and the world, through exchange and learning opportunities.
While fulfilling the language requirement needed for his degree, Nathan Cannataro decided to take a German class, and he ended up falling in love with the language. He ended up doing very well in the class, and when he learned of the opportunities to continue to learn the language further in Germany, he jumped at the chance.
Nathan took part in the Canadian Summer School in Germany, and immediately knew upon returning to Canada that he’d have to go back. While looking into funding for independent research, Nathan came across one of the programs offered by DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service . He successfully applied for a university summer course grant and ended up going back to Germany in the summer of 2017.
The more time he spends in Germany, the more Nathan comes to love the country. Especially the little things, like the forests and the efficiency of the trains. He speaks very warmly about the people he met, that he appreciated their honesty, and how caring they could be.
“They care so much— about their family, friends, what they eat, how they deal with waste. There’s a lot of enthusiasm, and they want to share those things,” he says.
Through his DAAD experience, Nathan was encouraged to work alongside students from other countries, both North Americans and Europeans. “It accelerated my understanding of diplomacy, and how to be a diplomat, like interacting with people from all over the world. It was a practical learning experience— I got to speak about my country and my province in a very proud way. It’s nice to have opportunities to do that.”
Nathan’s time with DAAD has helped him to become more confident in himself and his abilities. “I’ve become more honest...I’ve gained the ability to pave my own way. I started a language from nothing, and have been pursuing it for three years. [Being abroad] requires humility and patience, as well as courage.”
Nathan grew to learn through experience that taking up a new language and going to a new environment are the perfect exercises to learn and improve upon yourself. As a Young Ambassador, Nathan believes that he was given a valuable chance to improve upon himself. He believes that DAAD rewards enthusiasm and hard work, and they have equipped him to do well and succeed in his goals.
His experiences in Germany coupled with his work as a Young Ambassador has helped Nathan to get a clear picture of the opportunities out there available to him in the future.
“It’s dramatically revealed the career opportunities that I have,” he says. “While overwhelming, it’s a good problem to have, and something to be grateful for.”
Nathan has plans to continue his studies in Germany, evidently, his fascination with the country and all it has to offer is here to stay.