Meet the Staff: Waldsee | Concordia Language Villages

Meet the Staff: Waldsee

​Waldsee staff come from across the country and around the world to celebrate the richness and diversity of German-speaking cultures using our unique community-based approach to learning.  Our staff bring experience, talent, commitment and passion to our program. Some have grown up in our program, moving from villager to staff. Others are master teachers who captivate, motivate and nurture. Our kitchen, healthcare and administrative staff are fully committed to the Waldsee mission and ensuring an unforgettable experience.

Meet the Deans

Dan Karl Hamilton

Dan Karl Hamilton is dean of Waldsee (second half), the German Language Village. He has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 47 years and was a villager for four years. He is fluent in German and has studied French, Russian and Spanish. This is his 40th year as dean.

Karl earned his bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He was awarded a Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa, from Concordia College, Moorhead, in 2002.

Karl has served as a senior U.S. diplomat, including as Associate Director of the Policy Planning Staff for two U.S. Secretaries of State. He also served as a Senior Diplomatic Fellow for German Foreign Minister (now President) Frank-Walter Steinmeier and as a member of the Futures Advisory Group of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He now serves as the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Professor at SAIS. He serves on a number of international advisory and selection boards.

Karl is a prolific author and a regular media commentator on international relations and international education. He has been awarded Germany’s Federal Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz), France’s Ordre des Palmes académiques, Sweden’s Royal Order of the Polar Star, and the U.S. Department of State’s Superior Honor Award.

Jon Berndt Olsen

Jon Berndt Olsen is dean of Waldsee, the German Language Village, during the first half of our summer. Berndt has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 33 years and was a villager at both the German and Norwegian Language Villages. He is fluent in German and has studied Norwegian and Russian. This is his 20th year as dean.

Berndt received his bachelor's degree in German, Russian studies and history from St. Olaf College, his master's degree in German and European studies from Georgetown University and his doctorate in German history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Commission, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. Berndt has held teaching positions at Texas Tech University, The College of William and Mary, George Mason University and is currently an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he specializes in German History and Digital History. 

Meet the Staff


Waldsee Staff Testimonials

Read staff testimonials from Katja and the Haines family.