The following interview with Johanna Dittmar was conducted by Jane Smith, the apex PROaupair area director for San Francisco. Dittmar, a speech therapist from Germany, has been living and working with her host family in Oakland, California since last summer. Her host family adores her and raves about her kindness, friendliness and love.


How old were you when you started playing music?

I was 4 years old when I started to play the violin.

Who inspired you?

My parents are both musicians and teachers at a music school, so I grew up with a lot of music around me. On one “open door” day at our local music school, I choose an instrument that I wanted to learn and that was the violin.


What instruments do you play?

Right now, I only play the viola, but I also played the piano for 12 years, the violin for 6 years and the flute for 4 years.


How did you find the Oakland Civic Orchestra?

I found them via Google when I was back in Germany. It was one of the first things I looked up after I was matched with a family in Oakland. I couldn't imagine not being able to play the viola for a year.


How did you become a part of the PROaupair family?

I'm a speech therapist and finished school this summer. I knew quite early that I wanted to spend some time in the U.S. after my Bachelor’s degree because the country has fascinated me for a long time. When I found PROaupair, I was really happy to get the opportunity to use my professional background to help special needs children.


How do you mix music into your professional work with your host children?

I share my love of music with my host children. I like to sing songs with them. We make music on different percussion instruments that we have at home or drum on different surfaces inside and outside. Music is everywhere!


If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, come see Johanna on Sunday, January 22 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church. The PROaupair community will be there to support her!