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uni'alumni 2015_ENG

She never wanted to be a “skydiver” – the kind of journalist who lands somewhere, takes a couple of pictures, and disappears again. Prof. Dr. Sabine Rollberg wants to dig deeper. “I’m getting paid for lifelong learning. Every docu- mentary is a new universe for me.” She has been in business for 40 years. She describes her work as “building bridges between cultures” – for instance as a mediator, a foreign correspondent in New York and Paris, the author and editor of countless TV films, and the director of the cultural television channel Arte. She learned her craft early on. As a student, Rollberg wrote articles for newspapers and radio programs. In the 1970s she had a part-time job at the WDR television studio in Bonn and then did a traineeship there. However, she found a key to her later profession while studying at the University of Freiburg: “Ethnology gave me access to people. I benefitted a lot from it. Those who occupy themselves with this science are more open-minded about the world around them – it’s another way of look- ing at things.” Her career could have just as easily taken another course: As the child of a solo dancer and an actor, she performed on radio dramas starting when she was six years old, some of them in the Alemannic German dialect, and later acted in stage plays. After completing her schooling, she took a break, work- ing a part-time job in Corsica and taking a 99-day bus trip through the USA with a 99-dollar ticket. “That sounds like a pretty unfocused way of life,” says Rollberg with a laugh. Settling Down Is No Easy Task In reality, she was preparing herself for the “modern world”: She learned French and English during her time abroad; she already knew Greek and Latin from school. She completed her studies in history, German studies, and political science – ethnology was a labor of love – with magister and state exami- nation degrees, and finally with a doctoral dissertation on magazines in postwar Germany at the end of the 1940s. But she decided not to pursue a research career: “I don’t have enough perseverance for it.” Staying put in one place is not one of Rollberg’s talents. “I’m astounded at how much I was able to settle down after the birth of my daughter.” Indeed, the 61-year-old has now spent almost 16 years at WDR in Cologne, where she is currently responsible for the program of Arte, a television channel that stands for quality programming. She is also a professor at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, where she teaches courses on artistic television formats. Sometimes she wishes she could leave her desk and accompany filmmakers on their travels, interview people, and scout out filming locations. These are the moments Rollberg experienced as the most fulfilling in her career – like when she distributed food to homeless people in Paris each weekend and made a film about it, which ended up popularizing the idea of food banks in Germany. The journalist will not remain in Co- logne for much longer. She is planning to retire in a few years. Then she will return to her hometown – where her 97-year-old mother lives, where the meadows smell fresher than elsewhere in summer, and where her 558-year-old alma mater is located. She wants to come back, maybe take up a course of study in art history. “I’ll be one of those older ladies who snatch up the best seats in the lecture hall and ask a dreadful amount of questions.” Leave the settling down to others. Rimma Gerenstein Lifelong learning: Sabine Rollberg is a member of the advisory board of the University College Freiburg, which offers degree programs like the Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences – a program she would be tempted to enroll in herself. Photo: Sandra Meyndt PORTRAIT “Another Way of Looking at Things” The journalist Sabine Rollberg aims to build bridges between cultures 10