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Amerikaaustausch 2004

Manchseter Enterprise
- FAST FRIENDSHIPS - Schülergruppe

Photo by Marsha Johnson Charrand

 

 

 

German exchange students enjoyed their visit in Manchester and have now returned to Berlin. Pictured are Simon Ortmeyer (front, left), Inka Vossen, Caroline Muetter, Lidia Oberleitner, Sandrina Heyda, Charlotte Paulus and Arne Scherrer; Alex Kirscht (back, left), Jochen Bandelin, teacher Heidemarie Kraft, Franziska Krueger, teacher Dagmar Frost and Robert Gaede.

German exchange trip another success

By Marsha Johnson Chartrand
Editor

An annual tradition for many years has been the fall German exchange program, where a group of high school students from the Werner von Siemens Gymnasium in Berlin visit Manchester for three weeks, staying with host families from among the students who participate in the German curriculum.

This year, as always, there was much for the German students to see and do. And among the biggest things to see is the new high school with its spacious facilities and many amenities.

Heidemarie Kraft, the teacher, who has accompanied the students for 14 years now, said over the years she has met many of the same people and developed some close friendships, particularly with Susan Davis, Manchester High School's German teacher.

"Some parents have hosted so many of our students over the years," she added. "The Schulze family, the Tobiases … it is like meeting old friends.

"We are made to feel very much at home."

So much at home, in fact, that some of the Germans students had hoped to extend their stay in Manchester. Simon Qrtmeyer, who stayed with Nico Baier and his family, was among those who wished to stay longer.

"Berlin is more busy, more people, more noise," he said. "Everything is bigger."

Although Simon has always lived in a big city, he said he enjoyed the opportunity to see the difference in a small community like Manchester. "It's nice to live in a calmer town," he said.

Teacher Dagmar Frost, who has been part of the exchange. program for four years, said she is always amazed that the unique opportunities that Davis plans for the students to participate in.

"Susan always thinks up new things for us to do." She said. "It is never boring."

That was one of the fears held by Arne Scherrer, stayed with Charlie Sears and his family, before he came to Manchester.

"I was afraid that my host family and 1 would not be able to find a way to communicate," he said. "I was worried that I would sit at home all day with nothing to do.

"But I was lucky with my host family, we are always busy, 1 felt very integrated into the family and I'm very grateful." Even so, the different way of life was a definite change of pace for the Germans.

"It is much different than life in Germany," said Alex Kirscht, whose host was Matt Church. "It is a different way of going to school …... in Berlin I ride a bike to school.

"Here, I rode to school each day with my exchange partner. lt is just a different way of life."

Frost added that in Germany, students don't have cars, both because of public transportation and the fact that the legal driving age is 18.

DESPITE THE good times they enjoyed in Manchester, even those students who longed to stay a little longer had people and things they were happy to see when they returned home last weekend.

Inka Vossen, who stayed with Stephanie Mackres, said she really missed her friends and family.

"My host family and all the people I met here were really nice," she said. "I want to stay longer but it wouldn't work out - I have to go home. "And I will be glad to be at home, too."

Feeling welcome is one thing, but returning to Manchester might be another to Jochen Bandlein.

"I might come back to America to study some day," Jochen said, "or for a holiday. But perhaps I wouldn't come back to Manchester. "I don't want to be a farmer, and there are not as many business opportunities around here."

Jochen's host was R.J. Layher.

Franziska Krueger was eager to come on the exchange because she had never been to the United States before.

"I was once in France one an exchange and it was a good experience to be in another family and see the culture differences," she said. Franziska, staying with Sean Crawford and his family, said she fund American teens more open and outgoing than either their French or German counterparts.

Caroline Muetter added that in Manchester are surprisingly friendly. "They talk to you even when you don't know them," she said. "I've found some good friends."

Caroline's host was Shelly Schulze and family.

Charlotte Paulus, a guest of Kayla Kornexl and family, said she found her host family very generous and friendly.

"I feel like part of their family," she said. "Their lives are very different, but I like their way. Meals are very different than what I am used to in Germany."

While at home, Charlotte says her family eats together at the dinner table and that is where most of the families conversation takes place. "My host family, they talk, but not during meals," she said.

Charlotte also added that, like most of her fellow Germans, she enjoyed having sma1l doses of fast food while in America, she prefers to eat healthier as a rule.

"A mix is good." she said with a smile.

SCHOOL LIFE is very different at the von Siemens Gymnasium, according to Robert Gaede, whose host was Crystal Cloke. Robert enjoyed seeing the personal attention that teachers in Manchester are able to give to students, especially those who might be having trouble understanding the subject matter.

"School and how the lessons are given are very different," he said. "Here there are smaller classes; our school has big classes of at least 30 students ... teacher's can't talk to individual students."

Kiersten Bond's exchange student, Lidia Oberleitner, said another difference is that in Germany, the students' hobbies are quite separate from their school day.

"In Germany, hobbies are for free time, they have nothing to do with school," she said, adding that in Manchester it seemed like everyone's interests centered around school activities.

"I do a lot of dance, and I pursue that in my free time after school," she said. "There are not as many outside opportunities here."

Yet, Frost says, she is always surprised at the number of cultural opportunities that Davis locates for them within a short distance. "This year we went to the Ford museum and the factory tour," she said. "There are many opportunities to see famous people - at the Power Center or other places nearby you have access to interesting cultural events. "You're not really shut off here," she added. "For a small place there are an amazing number of activities and trips close by.

A perennial favourite of those nearby trips is the annual jaunt to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.

"Everyone always enjoys that," Kraft said. "And another thing that is so interesting is that you meet almost the entire town of Manchester at the football games."

Other events in which the German students were able to take part included trips to the Tanger Outlet Mall in Howell, the Howell Nature Center ropes course and a two-day side trip to Chicago; they also enjoyed a scavenger hunt in downtown Manchester, a tour of the Chrysler Proving Grounds and participating in the homecoming activities.

MOST IMPRESSIVE however, was the new high school building, particu1arly to the teachers, who had seen both the old and the new facilities.

"I am overwhelmed by the change," Kraft said. "Having computers in every c1ass room; overhead viewers … we would love to have these things in our school.

"These are areas in which we are way behind."

One thing she says she will never get used to is the air conditioning, something that is not prevalent in Germany.

"We are always cold," she said.

Last Thursday, the group was enjoying their final full day of warm and sunny weather as they prepared to return to Berlin early Friday afternoon. Knowing that rain and cool weather was likely to greet them on their return, they enjoyed a walk to Frank's for pizza at lunchtime and to Klager in the afternoon to show their slides to Manchester's youngest students.

While the 12 students and their teachers have returned to their homes and a more familiar way of life, the memories and the friendships made during the past three weeks will remain. Despite the many differences they found, hosts and visitors who enjoyed each others' company also found much in common and packet many memories into the past three weeks. They look forward to seeing each other again next summer when Manchester visits Berlin on a similar three-week exchange.