- Linguistic Training
- Year Joined:
Burkhart was born in Berlin, Germany. Over the years he had a very varied career path. He comes from an old family with a professional military tradition. His grandfather, father, uncle and brother were all Generals in the German Army. After school, he did not really know what he wanted to do. He studied electrical engineering, trained for three years as an officer in the army, and then worked on a farm for a year.
He then went back to Paris (where he previously had spent his last two school years in the international NATO School) and worked in a big tourist hotel and also taught German to private students. After three years in Paris, he moved to Madrid, where he worked in the foreign exchange department of a big German/Spanish bank and also taught German at the Berlitz School for languages. Here he met his Australian wife Patricia, who was teaching English at the same school. When she decided to go back to Australia, he did not want to lose her, so he married her in 1971 and went with her.
Arriving in Sydney in October 1971, he studied Hotel and Catering Management during the day at the East Sydney Tech and during the night worked as a Night Manager at the Sebel Town House Hotel. After graduating he worked in managerial positions in restaurants, clubs and hospitals, before becoming Food Service Manager for the NSW Premiers Department and the Public Works Department, where he catered for Royalty, Heads of State and 3,000 public servants.
After 5 years he became Manager Frozen Food Centre of the NSW Department of Health, producing some 8,000 meals per day distributing them throughout NSW to hospital patients, staff and MOW organisations. When the politicians decided to close the factory down, making him redundant, he bought a small chocolate manufacturing business and made exclusive boutique chocolates selling them to David Jones and speciality shops throughout Australia. At the same time, he studied business management at Western Sydney Uni and graduated with a Diploma of Management.
When the GST came in 2000, it made his small company financially unviable, so he sold it and worked for a year as a tour guide and bus driver, showing German, French and Spanish speaking tourists the sights of Australia. Getting bored with this, he decided to cash in on his foreign language knowledge, went to Uni, graduated with a BA, a Grad. Dip. Ed. and taught German, French, Spanish and a bit of Latin in public and private schools. When the need for teaching of those languages diminished, he went back to Uni, to do his Grad. Cert. of Tesol (teaching English to speakers of other languages) and now teaches English at Meadowbank TAFE.
He still has his own language training company EUROLINGUA, where he teaches European languages to private and corporate customers. Burkhart's wife Patricia, originally a pharmacist, also changed her career to become an English teacher. They have two adult children, Lucas and Jennifer and have lived in Eastwood for the last 25 years. Burkhart joined Rotary first in the 1980s, where, under the President Dick Brown, he first introduced the 'Tree of Joy' into Australia. In the '90s he resigned because of pressure of work and rejoined in 2008.
Why I joined Rotary: In the '90s, I resigned because of pressure of work. In 2008 I rejoined, because I was grateful for all the opportunities I have been given in life. I felt the need to give something back to society, to make it more equitable and to help and encourage the less fortunate. I wanted to put into practice some of the points of Rotary's Four-Way Test, namely help building a community which is fair and beneficial to all. I also wanted to join a club of good will and friendship, where the great variety of expertise and vocations of the club members helps to broaden our understanding, tolerance and horizon and makes it easy to achieve a common goal.