Jochen Gahrau

Guatemala Instructor, Study Abroad Faculty

M.A. World History, Middle Eastern Studies, and German Literature, University of Cologne, Germany

Growing up in a village in western Germany, Jochen spent much of his childhood exploring the surrounding forests, developing a love for nature early on. After graduating high school, he moved to the city of Cologne to study World History, Middle Eastern Studies, and German Literature. On a quest to learn Arabic, Jochen spent extended periods living in Cairo, Egypt, and Beirut, Lebanon. He also began traveling extensively, mainly in Europe and the Middle East. Jochen spent his final year of university living in Vancouver, British Columbia, and did research in the National Archives in Washington, DC, for his Master’s thesis on the CIA’s coup d’état in Guatemala in 1954.

In 2013, Jochen moved to the Guatemalan highlands, and, after initially working as a freelance editor for German researchers, became the social sciences teacher at a small high school. Building on his passions for history, social justice, and outdoor activities, he developed a curriculum connecting the past and present, the classroom, and volcano hikes. He also worked closely with the student council and directed the school play, bringing together the entire school.

In his work as an educator, Jochen strives to help students understand the interconnectedness of events. To understand, for example, the War on Drugs, inter-American migration, or environmental issues, one has to study age-old social and political patterns, from colonization to racism to patriarchy. Guatemala is at the crossroads of all of these developments, which allows students a holistic learning experience.

In his free time, Jochen still enjoys traveling, reading a good book, playing the accordion, cooking, and spending time with his friends.