Herr Borrud, Vielsig Jahren von Der Die Das: A Student Tribute to Jim Borrud H`75

The following was written by Wayland student Haoyan (Ken) Wang `19

As in every year, seniors are becoming freshmen again, freshmen become sophomores, sophomores become juniors, and juniors become the seniors; teachers will be busy again, passing their abundant knowledge to generations after generations of students. The cycle never stops. For me, this year is a special one, as my German teacher, Herr Borrud, ends his era.

Herr Borrud has been teaching at the Academy for over forty years. Even though I’m only a two-year German student, I regard Herr Borrud as one of my favorite teachers on campus. Herr Borrud is very organized with a class schedule that is skill-based through German 1, the simplest vocabulary and grammar class, to AP German, the complicated advanced placement class. In class, Herr Borrud finds articles or stories that fit the class level, and explains the grammar and vocabulary with patience. Sometimes, he becomes so passionate that he keeps telling students his stories using half of the class time. He is a living Wikipedia of Germany.

Besides reading and memorizing, speaking and writing are also vital for German learning. In class, Herr Borrud would play tapes and let us repeat or write down in German what we remembered from listening to the tape. Occasionally, students struggle with pronunciation or organizing sentences; Herr Borrud would encourage them to speak out loud, and guide them through the corrections.

He is very kind and patient, and undoubtedly, he is always open for questions. As a language teacher, Herr Borrud can speak multiple languages include German, Norwegian, French, Russian, Spanish and other languages. “I like learning about languages and cultures because they make me see the world," he told me once outside the class.

He has built a friendly relationship with CJD Elze, a local high school in Elze, Germany, and has been leading students to Germany for almost thirty years, even during the Cold War. He gave students chances to explore the real German culture and history, to share his love of fascinating, diverse customs around the world. Fortunately, I was able to join what may be his last trip to Germany during this year’s spring break. Wherever we went, Herr Borrud could always tell us a story or about big events that happened there. He was always willing to answer any questions or to share his knowledge with us. He always had a smile on his face as if he were home.

One of the highlights of the trip was the soccer game. Soccer is a huge part of German culture; people celebrate on the street singing the song of the winning team and are happy, regardless of the time. No matter before the game or how late it is after the game, there are always people singing around at the top of their lungs. Herr Borrud took us to two games and they were unquestionably the best moments I had. It made me blend in with the local culture and left me wanting to know more.

Before our visit to Germany, German students visited Wayland first. This is a traditional exchange program that has been going on for a long time. Through interviews I conducted with some German students, I learned that they like the exchange program with Wayland very much. As Ole Meyer, a junior from Elze, said “I experience a different culture and school system, it’s very cool to have new experiences.”  Another junior, Celine Köhne, said the class schedule is very different and she joked about the American food in the cafeteria. She enjoyed meeting new people through the program.

The most important aspect of Mr. Borrud’s teaching is a daring spirit. He gets excited if a student communicates with him in German outside the class. He always tells me that the daring spirit is the key to learn languages; you have to have the courage to speak and not fear making mistakes. When you make mistakes, you learn from them. This is very true. He encourages students to apply the German they learn outside the class to use it in the classroom, writing emails, even in the dining hall, and of course, on the German trips. Moreover, Herr Borrud plays German movies in class to educate us about German politics or lifestyles. Often, he pauses the movie and asks us questions to see if we understand it or have any questions, then he gives us background information to help us understand the culture or the history better. His spirits have influenced many alumni who were once his students. On his last trip, luckily, I have met two of them: Ted Shank and Jasmine Bryant. Both of them currently lives in Germany thanks to Herr Borrud’s teaching. Shank speaks of Herr Borrud's language and the culture; and for Bryant, she believes Herr Borrud’s German influence brought her interest in living in Germany as a high-schooler. Both of them said that Herr Borrud was one of the best teachers they have ever had, and it was an honorable privilege to have him as their high school teacher.

During his star career at Wayland Academy, Herr Borrud also coached golf and was a mentor. He is one of the most dedicated teachers in the school, devoting himself whole-heartedly to teaching the German language. From the comments of alumni, it is easy to see how he influenced others positively, and he managed to keep doing so. Besides teaching, Herr Borrud would go to students’ games like basketball or soccer games to show his support. He truly dedicated himself in four successful decades of teaching and living in the community. It is sad that Herr Borrud decided to end his career, but he will always be a member of the community, thanks to his influence on so many students. Herr Borrud is more than a teacher, according to many students who know him: he sometimes is a life mentor. Furthermore, because of his dedication, Herr Borrud has already become a legend in the local community.