Bavaria invades the East Coast

Trip Start Jun 25, 2012
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Trip End Jul 19, 2012

, Virginia,
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

21 March 2012 was a big day for our exchange group. Finally, after month of preparation, combing through applications, seeking approvals, and planning adventures, our exchange partners from Germany arrived at Dulles Airport. Nervously, we were holding our signs, flowers and posters, waiting for our partners to finally embark from the customs check.
Although all of us were meeting face-to-face for the first time, thanks to the magic of social media and skype, it seemed like we knew each other already. Certainly I felt that way about my partner teachers coming from Bavaria. Being the Facebook stalkers that we both are, we had learned much about the other already. Our facebook group page had also provided the students with a chance to get to know something about each other before their first face-to-face meeting, and kept all of us in touch before the visit, during the visit, and since the visit.

The visit from our Bavarian friends was a smashing success. The "what I did" list represents a sampling of what they were able to experience while they were here. The parents of the American students also organzied a Welcome Potluck , Airsoft Battle, Backyard Campfire and Marshmellow Roast, Easter Egg Painting, Journey to King's Dominion and plenty of parties because they wanted to give the students an opportunity to spend time with each other. The parents also helped organize transportation, took in extra Exchange Students, and accompanied us on the trips we took to Washington, Virginia Beach, Jamestown, and Charlottesville. The Bavarian Gappies took a train to New York, where they got to experience the "Big Apple".

We had beautiful weather, and Brooke Point enjoyed having the visitors from Bavaria. They came equipped with plenty of presentations, instruments, and a host of questions about the American Way of Life. Students played instruments with Jazz Band, participated in discussion forums with our Theory of Knowledge and IB Anthropology Class, dazzled the French and Latin teacher with their foreign language skills, and were welcome guests and participants in every classroom. This group of young people were friendly, warm and uncomplicated, and friendships were formed very quickly. The students became much more than just short-term visitors; they became good friends who shared a wonderful 3 weeks together. More importantly, I can safely say that everyone who came to visit left with a positive image of Stafford and the United States. Thus, we did our part to help the inhabitants of the global village learn more about each other.

When it was time for us to say good-bye, tears flowed and sad faces prevailed. But do not worry!! As I am writing this, I realize it will be in 5 short days that we will embark on our return visit. I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that I cannot wait.
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Comments

Kristen Postma on

This is great idea. I look forward to more. That sounds like a fun program and a great opportunity for everyone involved. Your travel points of interest sound exciting, too. I have never heard of the Old Post Office Pavilion, but I would have liked to check it out. If I ever get back to D.C., I will.

I am glad the students were able to step away with a positive image from their trip. You are the perfect person for the job with your experience growing up in Germany and now living in the U.S. I'd be interested in hearing more detail about the exchange students. For instance, their fluency in various languages. That always impresses me. And what they thought about American culture. Do you have a transcript from the forum or some highlights? We spoke to a student from Australia in one of my grad classes and that was interesting. Many of us were mesmerized by his accent!

WIll definitely check back for future entries. Thanks for sharing!

lambue
lambue on

Kristen, the students who stayed with us were all 5th or 6th year English students, and their English was very good. They were able to participate and understand most of what they heard in school and at their guest homes. Their teachers covered new vocabulary with them frequently. They came from a Gymnasium, which is the German equivalent of College Prep Track, and all of them had learned a third language - mostly Latin, but some French. Some were also starting with Spanish. I was impressed by their language skills.
My students are second or third year German students - and two 4th year students. I expect the 3rd year students to be able to follow simple conversations, and the 4th year students to talk about more complex themes. Overall, being submersed in the language, living with a German family, and attending a German school for 2 weeks will help them tremendously with their communication skills.
As an educator, this has been one of the most rewarding challenges I have ever embarked upon. To see the kids become friends, to see them come to my house to prepare presentations during their vacation time, and to see how excited they are about this trip is very rewarding for me. Glad to see you are interested. All the best to you, your husband and Baby Son.

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