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Winner’s Photo Features WashU Spirit in Beloved German Town


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German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote that we should give our children roots and wings. Alumna and 2018 Going Places With WashU photo contest winner Christina Wills, AB ’03, says Washington University gave her both while she was studying abroad in Tübingen, Germany, during the 2001–02 school year. “I had roots in St. Louis when I was living abroad, but WashU also gave me wings to go experience the world.”

In the photo Wills submitted for the contest (on right), the Germanic language and literature and education studies double major stands with her husband, Edward Banti, BS ’06, MS ’06, on the Eberhardsbrücke, a bridge that crosses Tübingen’s Neckar River. Wills and Banti met while they were students at Washington University, and both reside with their dachshund, Albert, in Berlin. “Last summer was my first time back in Tübingen since I studied abroad,” Wills says. “It was amazing to share one of the most special places in my life with the most special person in my life.” The two can be seen sporting a variety of WashU gear around Berlin, but Wills says the red
T-shirt she and her husband are wearing in the photograph is her favorite shirt to wear to their​ spinning studio.

Having walked across the Eberhardsbrücke regularly while studying at the University of Tübingen, Wills says the bridge provides the best vantage point for taking in the city’s picturesque half-timbered houses and the Hölderlinturm, the residence of 19th-century German poet Friedrich Hölderlin. “The view never failed to take my breath away when I was studying abroad—just as it did when we took this photo,” she says.

Wills describes Tübingen as a quintessential German university town and says the city revolves around students. During her year studying abroad, she stayed in a Studentenwohnheim, or dorm, that had been converted from a home built in the early 1700s. Located above a bakery and across from an old church in the middle of Tübingen, the dorm was so charming that Wills says she didn’t mind being awakened early on weekends by church bells.

Wills experienced another type of wake-up call on September 11, 2001, just five days after the first time she arrived in Tübingen. “It was surreal to be at the start of this amazing adventure and at the same time watch my home country come under attack,” she says. While the experience colored her time abroad, the 9/11 terrorist strikes ultimately confirmed her belief that cultural and academic exchanges are avenues toward global peace and prosperity.

After graduating from Washington University, Wills was a Fulbright scholar in Koblenz, Germany, for a year. She then earned an MBA and a master’s degree in Germanics from the University of Washington in Seattle, and she currently leads supplier development in Germany and Turkey for the Boeing Company. Her husband works for Amazon as a director of machine learning, and the two agree that Washington University prepared them well for international careers. “WashU may be in St. Louis, Missouri, but it educates students to become citizens of the world,” Wills says. “The time we spent at the university is small in the grand scheme of things, but the experiences we had while we were students will shape the rest of our lives.”

—By MaryEllen VanDerHeyden

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Christina Wills, AB 03, and her husband, Edward Banti, BS '06, MS '06 

Christina Wills, AB ’03, and her husband, Edward
Banti, BS 
’06, MS ’06, in Tübingen, Germany, 16 years after Christina studied there as a junior at WashU

 

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