william saetre '83
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
I am an opera singer, doing main roles in an opera house in Germany. I also teach at a conservatory for college-age voice majors.
What has been your career path to date?
Never giving up! Graduate school, apprentice programs for young singers, auditioning.
Which country(ies) has your work taken you to?
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
My grandmother and her great love of traveling, and other relatives who talked of the big, outside world, and how I needed to explore and know it. As an opera/classical singer, Europe seemed a logical place to live, this being the cradle of western, classical music.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
The St. Olaf Choir.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
The beurocracy of European countires! And understanding that other traditions, behavioral patterns and ways of doing things are not necessarily bad simply because they are not American.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
The broadening of my horizons, and ability to look at life's great questions and challenges from more than one perspective.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
It means participating in a life and a society which passes no judgement on political and national borders, rather, cultural borders. These are many, and they are important, ultimately fascinating.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
Get your plane ticket, and GO. Don't look back with doubts until you've learned the language well enough to use local colloquialisms. (This is my own gage.) Self confidence combined with humility is the key.
Please include anything else you would like to share about your experiences.
Being an opera singer and a teacher of singing is in itself an international profession, and my life abroad is unusual, even amongst the "locals" in Europe. But, life is different, even in my profession, and one learns to become maliable. Even opera singers have to go to the grocery store, and pay utility bills, etc. One learns also to appreciate and understand the USA and all its quirks and its multi-faceted society. But one learns to look back at the USA with a more critical eye and balanced understanding.