Meet Wibke Wittmann
by Jan Whitmer
Wibke Wittmann’s enthusiasm bubbles over as she talks about volunteering with the Environmental Volunteers. Although she and her husband Oliver arrived in this country from Germany only last June, Wibke (pronounced Veebka or Veebee, for short) has wasted no time becoming involved. She feels that volunteering is the best way to meet fascinating people one might not ordinarily encounter. Not only is she active in the classroom, but Wibke also worked the reception table at our Wild Crush fundraiser. She spends an hour a week at Toastmasters, a nonprofit that works on improving communication skills through prepared and impromptu speech-giving.
In Germany, Wibke volunteered with an organization promoting a lifestyle free from alcohol and drugs by arranging camps, seminars and workshops for young people.
Though Wibke has spent most of her life in Hamburg, she lived in Freiburg in the Black Forest for 6 years previous to coming here. Recently married, the Wittmanns moved here because of Oliver’s job in the field of solar energy. Wibke herself returned to Germany last fall for 3 months, also working with a solar energy company which will hopefully turn into a position for her here. Her educational background is in what she describes as wood technology, a combination of biology and engineering that deals with all aspects of wood—its uses, its trade and laws governing it. Before deciding on this field, Wibke apprenticed as a carpenter and began her schooling in biology.
Fluent in 5 languages – German, English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese – Wibke has traveled extensively in Europe and in this hemisphere. She has hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and spent a half year in Brazil working on her diploma thesis. Wibke’s avocations include music—she plays piano and clarinet and performed in choirs and bands at home. She enjoys swimming in the Pacific (a hearty soul!) and participating in capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines movements from martial arts and dance.
Wibke misses the compactness of European city centers which makes driving less necessary. But she loves the weather and diversity of nature here. She finds us Californians open, friendly, and enthusiastic, and admires the spirit of “anything is possible” that she finds here. Wibke, we thank you for the enthusiasm and energy that you bring to the Environmental Volunteers!