Some of you may be wondering about this blog’s title character, Heidi Hefeweizen. Is this some kind of strange, wheat beer-themed children’s story? Weird alter-ego? Nein.
I moved to Blacksburg in 2006 and was lucky enough to find a job teaching German in a neighboring county’s high school. This was my first “real job.” This high school was divided physically into pods by subject, and the foreign languages shared a pod with the social studies department. Of course my mentor was also in the foreign language department, and I had the chance to meet all of those teachers. However, they did not introduce me to the social studies faculty right away, so I would push my cart through the pod between classes and see mostly unfamiliar faces. Most of these teachers were friendly, but it took me some time to get up the nerve to initiate conversation. After a few months, we all got to know each other and became good friends.
Fast forward to the following spring. To raise money for a charity (I forget which), there was an annual Faculty vs. Senior Class basketball game. Some of the social studies faculty asked me to play; I declined since I knew nothing about basketball. They tried to convince me with a team T-shirt that would have my number and a nickname on the back. “Sorry,” I said, “I don’t have a nickname.” “You could use ‘Heidi Hefeweizen’,” my friend said. “What?” I asked. My new friends were quiet for a moment, until one said “You never told her?” “Yes,” he replied, “I told her at the Christmas party.” I said, “I didn’t go to the Christmas party, remember? George and I got sick on some bad sushi. What are you guys talking about?”
After the moment of realization, they told me about how no one could remember my name at the beginning of the year. After about a month, it was a bit too late to ask without it being embarrassing, so they made up a nickname for me from the first things that came to their minds when they thought of German culture: beer and the Alps. Thus, I was dubbed “Heidi Hefeweizen.” I decided to pay a fond homage to my first adventure in teaching, during my second. And now you know.