John Chaimov
Associate Professor of German
Director of Off-Campus Study

John ChaimovEducation
B.A., University California San Diego
M.A., Ph.D., University Chicago

What classes are you currently teaching?
This year I'm teaching the German classes "Life During Wartime" and "Ghosts and Madness"; a first-year seminar "Aliens"; and "Introduction to International Studies"

What activities or campus organizations are you actively involved with?
German Club, lots of study abroad stuff.

What makes Coe stand out from other schools?
Small-college relationships with big(gish)-city possibilities.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?
I like different classes for different reasons. It's like having to name your favorite child. German classes are fun because it's all talking in a secret code, and even if you're discussing a serious text, a laugh is always just around the corner. First-year seminars are fun because of the extra time I get to spend getting to know the students.

What is your most memorable moment interacting with a Coe student?
I remember a class that kidnapped itself one day and left me a trail of notes and clues around campus.

What research or projects are you currently working on with Coe students?
This term the students in my advanced German course translated and researched documents from the archives of 1930s radio journalist and Coe alum William Shirer. This was a great learning opportunity for the students and it leaves helpful resources for future scholars.

What is your favorite website?
The Onion.

What book are you currently reading?
I'm reading one book after another about Burma. I have these new friends who are refugees from the genocide in Burma, and I'm trying to inform myself about their lives and their very flexible sense of home.

What do you enjoy doing outside of class?
Cedar Rapids offers the best volunteer opportunities. Monday nights you'll find me tutoring immigrants at the local immigrant assistance center. Tuesday nights I'm playing with kids at the women's center downtown: always fun.

What does teaching at Coe mean to you?
Teaching at Coe is an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to be inspired. I just play the role of teacher in the classroom because someone has to.

What is your favorite thing about Coe?
I love the same thing that the students love: getting to make connections with interesting people and getting to learn something new all the time. It feels like being part of an ever-widening family. My best days are when I get an email from a student who graduated years ago and just wanted to say hi or when I get a visit from a former student. How about seeing a former student get married? That's when you know that Coe doesn't end at graduation.

What advice would you give a prospective student?
I'm always thinking about the special student, the student who swims against the current, the student who might have been laughed at for being passionate about something, the student who might, deep inside, harbor a tiny question mark about being what your friends expect you to be or looking like your parents expect you to look. To that special student I want to say that you will find others like you at Coe. As in life generally, they aren't always easy to spot at first, but once you get to know your way around campus, you'll realize they are here-people with whom you can share doubts, share passions, share who you are.

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