Claim Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf - University of Applied Sciences

50 years of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences: The faces and stories

HSWT inside | Gabriel Dorta

"I felt at home in no time"

When you speak to Gabriel Dorta about his job, you quickly realise how much he loves it. "Our students know what they want. They are aware that we have expectations of them, but they also have expectations of the lecturers," says the Deputy Director of the Language Centre at the Triesdorf campus, who also runs Spanish courses. His students attend the courses voluntarily – it is not mandatory to learn a foreign language as part of their degree. And that is why the 51-year-old values his students’ commitment so much.

Gabriel Dorta has been at HSWT for 13 years. When he joined at the end of 2008, he took on the task of establishing a language centre at the Triesdorf campus. "I was thrown in at the deep end," he laughs, "but I knew that. And I really enjoyed the freedom." He had great support from his manager at the time. "She had a huge impact on me during my first few years at HSWT with her professional yet extremely personable approach," Gabriel Dorta reminisces. "I really appreciated her."

From Caracas to Triesdorf

Gabriel Dorta’s journey to Triesdorf was a long one. Dorta grew up in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, where he studied German and English. In 1998, he spent a semester at the University of Freiburg on a continuing education programme, where he met his future doctoral supervisor and later, in 2005, achieved his doctorate in German linguistics. He then returned to Caracas for two-and-a-half years to work at the university there teaching languages. When Dorta’s parents – Spaniards who had emigrated to Venezuela – returned to their home country, he followed them to Europe.

"While looking for a job, I came across the vacancy at HSWT. Friends told me that it’s a great location and I ought to apply," Gabriel Dorta recalls. And so, a short while later, he found himself in Triesdorf for an interview. He smiles as he thinks back to that day: "As part of the interview, I had to give a presentation on intercultural communication. It ended up being much too academic and dry, because I was used to this style from all my years at university." Nevertheless, he got the job – and his language courses are anything but dry.

A passion for languages

As well as being a Spanish teacher, Gabriel Dorta is the Deputy Director of Triesdorf Language Centre, which includes responsibility for the UNICERT certificates that confirm the high quality of the language courses provided, for the schedules, for managing the website and, of course, for student support. It is the opportunity to interact with students that he particularly loves about his job: "We are always engaging with each other, learning from each other. I believe that our informal campus also helps to make these relationships more relaxed." How was it, moving from the turbulent city of Caracas, home to millions, to little Weidenbach? "I felt at home in no time and love that the campus is my place of work," says Gabriel Dorta.

The language courses had to move online during the coronavirus pandemic. "Like in so many areas, the transition was a challenge to start with, of course, but now it’s working great. I get a lot of positive feedback from the students. For some of them, it is actually easier to attend a language course now because they can do it from anywhere. We are considering continuing to offer some online courses after the coronavirus pandemic."

Gabriel Dorta loves engaging with languages and literature during his free time, too. "I’m an avid reader. One of my favourite authors is T.C. Boyle, but I am currently catching up on a few classics that you simply have to read," he says. Travelling, though naturally very restricted at the moment, is another of his passions. He heads south west to Galicia, where his mother lives, at least once a year. But Gabriel Dorta is always happy to return to his chosen home of Middle Franconia.