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Like many of our teachers, our newest staff member Simone is not only a fabulous German tutor, but also has artistic experiences and a very eventful life story. As a photographer and an “Agent of the Everyday-Life”, Simone not only produces her own artistic works, but also organizes theater events and collaborates with other artists. We sat down with Simone to find out more about her work as an artist, but of course we were also curious about her perspective on teaching. You can read the full interview on our website.

You studied Latin American Studies in Vienna and lived in Santiago de Chile as part of your studies. How did this time influence you?

Yes, it’s true: I studied in Santiago de Chile and went back several times. It was through my first visit to Santiago - which I made at 23, after completing my first degree - that I came into contact with the continent. And suddenly - boom - I worked in the Austrian Embassy and fell head over heels in love: with this big, modern city, where buses stop at the street corners when you wave; with the friendly people, who smile at you at the supermarket checkout; and with the loving, inscrutable language, Chilean Spanish. It has always reminded me of hearing German in Austria - flowery and a bit confused, very animated, swallowing endings.

Then I studied again and went, every year for several months, to Latin America to study, research, work and travel. I worked on migration in Chile and interviewed Peruvian migrants. Urban development was also one of my main research areas. The openness, the joy of life and the intense savoring of every moment have shaped me the most, besides the lived tolerance and openness. Through studying Latin American Studies I came to artistic photography and singing, which means that without Santiago de Chile I wouldn't be who I am today, in my opinion.

Photo from the series "06070 ciudad de mexico", Simone D. Fachel, 2013

In 2007 you decided to move from Vienna to Berlin. What prompted you to make this decision?

The decision to leave Austria had been made a long time ago. It was unclear where to go. Berlin was so tempting - open, tolerant, modern. A little crazy and yet quiet. Hyped, but still very loveable. Vienna was a little grey for me. The same mother tongue seduced me, but it wasn't quite as simple as I thought: I felt culture shock - unbelievable, but true. But over the years I understood it a lot better and also learnt to love it. Berlin forever? Hmmm... I would love to go to Paris and Montevideo, maybe to Buenos Aires too. There is so much to discover and yet - the bus driver who explains to me how to buy a ticket (because as an Austrian, I don't know how) is only in Berlin (laughs).

Today, you work both as a German teacher and as an artist and photographer. Do these two fields of activity complement and influence each other for you? Or do you keep them separate?

For me, language is the key to the world. In every moment of life, in every profession. Also not to speak is to speak. Language is very important and forms your identity. I still clearly separate my professions, but at the same time they inherently influence each other. Whether I explain concepts as a teacher or develop and implement concepts as an artist, both are in flux. Topics that interest me as an artist flow into my teaching. I have also worked in many different fields (galleries, performing and visual arts, in film production, for universities, in call centres) and what struck me every time was that every setting has a clearly defined language spectrum that they use, which one wants to explore and learn as a "newcomer". Only with its acquisition and discrete use, does it allow for an independent positioning and joy of the language.

Photo from the series: "quem tem o pode" by Simone D. Fachel

What is particularly important to you in your role as a German teacher?

Teaching is art. For me, teaching at eye level is important, in a relaxed atmosphere where you feel comfortable. Teaching concepts and skills in a form that is understandable, with applications that are fun. Understanding as a group and us. And mutual respect.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I always enjoy meeting great, exciting people, experiencing unknown situations and trying out new methods. Being present now. I also find it particularly nice to see the development of students and the joy that goes with it. Biscuits & chocolate ;)

At the moment you are also currently taking singing lessons and have announced a music project on your website. Can you tell us anything about it?

In Vienna I studied jazz singing at the Jazzkonservatorium, which was interrupted only by my move to Berlin. After that, I worked full time and  studying full-time again was unfortunately out of the question. I am in the practice and my personal development has brought me over from a band project now to my own project. With "Bas.tarde" we covered 70s/80s songs sung by men and made our own versions. A friend played the double bass, I was the singer and used children's instruments.

Now I compose, write lyrics in different languages and sing. My 12-year classical education helps me with this - notes are no foreign language to me, and with jazz theory everything comes a little easier in my direction. For most of the songs I would like to accompany myself, but I also work with a professional Austrian musician – I work with him to finish some songs and he produces them.. Musically it goes in the direction of Jazz - Alternative - Blues, a lot of rhythm and playing with the voice as instrument. It is important to me to give the project a lot of space and time so that it can develop. We're already looking forward to the first concerts, and when the time comes, I'll gladly let you know.

Simone, thank you very much for this interview!

Visit Simone's website for more of her artistic work.