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 brings 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 Dean

Jon Berndt Olsen

Jon Olsen smiling outside.

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.

Heidi Julia Draheim-Shadbeh

Heidi Draheim-Shadbeh smiling in a black shirt.

Heidi Julia Draheim-Shadbeh’s Waldsee journey began as a camper for four years, then in 1998 joining the staff as a junior counselor. Since then, she’s done a little bit of everything, from teaching countless villagers how to answer “Wie heisst du?” and building giant UFOs to managing the business office and mentoring younger counselors as leadership staff. Julia received her bachelor’s in German and elementary education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She spent a year in Germany teaching English through the Fulbright Commission and five weeks studying foreign language education in China through the Fulbright-Hays program. Teaching has always been her passion; Julia currently teaches first and second graders at the German International School in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not at Waldsee, she enjoys cooking, baking, hiking and camping with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Justin Julius Quam

Justin Quam smiling outside at Waldsee.

Justin Julius Quam spent seven years at Waldsee as a villager before beginning on staff in 2005. He has worked as a song leader, credit facilitator and leader of the Märchenwald  theater/history program. He also supervised Waldsee’s inaugural virtual academic year credit program in 2020-21. Julius earned his bachelor's in political science at Yale University and completed his doctorate in German at Georgetown University in 2020. He is fluent in German and has also studied French and Arabic. Julius currently teaches German and global politics at St. Paul’s Schools in Brooklandville, Maryland, and has traveled with students to Germany. He also taught English in Austria and was a grade school assistant at the German International School in Portland, Oregon. While in graduate school, he collaborated with Dr. Heidi Hamilton on a research project exploring the different types of written language that characterize the Waldsee site; the results of their work were published in an edited volume on linguistic landscapes in 2020.

Meet the Staff

Waldsee Staff Testimonials

Read staff testimonials from Katja and the Haines family.