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Wie Heißt Du: Picking a Waldsee Name

Published: January 14, 2020

At Waldsee, we teach German through a “Grand Simulation,” designed to immerse villagers and staff in the cultures and traditions of the German-speaking world. From the food to the architecture to the language, villagers have officially left die englische Zone (the English Zone). To enhance the immersion experience, villagers leave their “real-world” names at the doors of the Bahnhof as well, choosing a new name from the Namensbaum (name tree) on Ankunftstag (arrival day).

Ankunftstag 7.17.17

While choosing a new name is by no means required, it is a fun way to take part in the immersion experience. The Waldsee Namensbaum contains dozens of names from throughout the history of the German-speaking world -- from medieval names like Mechthild or Hildegard to more commonly-used names today, such Katja, Charlotte, Jakob, Mehmet, or Mustafa.

There’s no wrong way to choose a new Waldsee name. Some of our favorite ways to narrow down the list of incredible names include picking a name that: (1) starts with the same letter as your “real-world” name; (2) looks like a friend’s or relative’s name; (3) sounds nice or has a special meaning; or (4) sounds completely unlike any name you have heard before -- looking at you, Thusnelda. Some villagers pick a new name every year, and other villagers pick one name and keep it forever, even when they become counselors. 


Having a new Waldsee name really allows villagers both to “live the language” and, ironically, be themselves in a different environment. From picking a name with a particular meaning to them to finding creative ways to decorate their new Namensschilder (name tags), villagers let their personalities shine.

Think about new Namensschild designs and get ready to learn more German in Summer 2020! We can’t wait to see you, whether it’s your first time atWaldsee  or coming back after decades for our Alumni Weekend, July 17-19.


Have you spent nearly a decade or more at Waldsee over the last 60 years? We would love to hear from you for a future blog post! Please fill out this form here if you are interested.

Additionally, we are collecting and digitizing photos from alumni in honor of our 60th anniversary this summer. If you have any photos you would like to share (particularly from the 80s and 90s), please send them to betreuerschaft@gmail.com.