IES Abroad Berlin Says Farewell to Homestay Host, Elisabeth Gaerner

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IES Abroad
December 17, 2014

Elisabeth Gaerner, who at 22 years is the longest-serving host for IES Abroad Berlin students, is going to retire at the end of the year.

Elisabeth (better-known as Betty) opened her home and gave guidance to nearly 40 IES Berlin students. Betty loves traveling herself, but, being a former resident of East Germany, she was only able to begin seeing the world when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. In the last 25 years, Betty has made up for lost time and traveled to 77 countries! Japan is next on her list.

As is obvious from the student quotes below, Betty was a special part of the study abroad experience for those IES Abroad Berlin students lucky enough to live with and get to know her.

Her retirement comes around the same time as another milestone—Betty’s 75th birthday on December 26! We wish Betty a very happy birthday and thank her for welcoming so many of our students into her home. Congratulations, Betty!

What students have to say about Betty:

“Life with Betty Gaerner is about as good as you’ll get in this city. Betty is an incredibly kind, friendly woman who is very interested in international students and is an avid traveler. During my time living with her she traveled to Ecuador and the Galápagos, China, and Scotland.”
Gary Bullard, Spring 2002

“Elizabeth (or Betty) is simply one of the sweetest old ladies I’ve ever met. She’s always in a wonderful mood and as friendly as one could ever imagine. As much as I offered to help with things around the apartment, she insisted that everything was ok. Often times I discovered old stains in my clothing to have disappeared, minor tears repaired, and bed sheets regularly changed. It’s quite pleasant to sit down and have a cup of coffee or some ice cream and chat with the lady because she certainly has a wide array of tales to tell. There isn’t a single negative thing in the world I have to say in regards to Betty. She’s truly a wonderful person and a wonderful host.”
Derek B. Zimmermann, Spring 2004

“Betty is a really sweet old lady, who is like living with family. She is really nice and loves to have conversations. We usually have breakfast every morning, talk over the paper, and will occasionally have an afternoon coffee. She’s a wealth of information, not only on Berlin but Germany, too.”
- Matt DeFelice, FY 2009/10

“Betty is one of the sweetest, most cheerful people you will ever meet and is always willing to help you with whatever you need, from getting around Berlin to recommending interesting places in the city to fixing holes in clothing. She is in her 70s, retired, and is a great resource, having lived more than 25 years in Berlin. I recommend taking the time to sit down with her and talk to her about her life. She has many interesting stories about the DDR.”
- Seth Timpke, FY 2012/13

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