15 Teenaged Students
From Near Hanover
Finish 2-Week Stay
With GHS Students
BY LAUREN HENRY
Some schools trade education techniques or even technology, but a school in Germany and a school in Greeneville trade students.
It is a partnership that Greeneville High School teacher Tony Feathers started last year following his 2010 Fulbright Scholars trip to Germany.
GHS played host first for students from Immanuel-Kant Gymnasium, a school near Hanover, Germany.
Last school year, 12 students from Immanuel-Kant Gymnasium visited Greeneville.
This summer, 14 GHS students traveled to Germany and were hosted by some of the German families of the same students who had previously lived with them here in Greeneville.
Today finishes the two-week stay for the second group of German students to visit Greeneville.
The 15 students stayed with some families of students that had traveled to Germany or those that plan on traveling with the next trip to Germany.
'A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE'
This was the first time to America for many of the students visiting these past two weeks.
But not for Rebekka Freitag.
"I've already been to America, but I think it is a different experience living with the family and learning how they live," Freitag said.
She had been to several cities in the United States previously, including cities in Florida, Chicago, New York and others, but not a community in Tennessee.
"It is a good experience for them," said German teacher Svenja Siekmann. "It is fun, and they get to speak English all the time."
The students have been studying English since they were nine-years-old and the visit was a chance for them to practice the language. At Immanuel-Kant, it is mandatory that all students learn English.
THE LOCAL SIGHTS
Feathers planned a variety of activities during the two-week stay to give the students a taste of both American culture in general and Greeneville's own unique cultural flavor.
Some highlights included a trip to the Bean Barn restaurant, a girls' soccer game, Greeneville High School homecoming activities, a football game, canoeing on the Nolichucky River, a potluck and weenie roast, a walking tour of Greeneville, Rocky Mount historic site in Jonesborough and other places of interest.
A trip to Dollywood was a highlight for many of the students, although they were quick to point out that amusement parks in Germany are much larger.
"There was more variety of rides, though," Lara Hinze said.
The students also visited the German class at Morristown East High School, where some students from GHS take German via telecommunication.
The German students saw differences in culture. For example, while Americans drive everywhere, the students were used to either riding bikes to school or taking buses to places.
Food is also much sweeter in America than the German students were used to. A few said they missed Germany's abundant fresh vegetables and homemade bread.
"The food is very different and the drinks," German teacher Siekmann said. "There is more fast food, and the portions are all much bigger."
Lukas Pascal Schnittger was struck by the size of American homes.
"Everyone has their own bathroom," he said.
PEOPLE MAKE IMPRESSION
For Madita Schroder, the people of Tennessee are what made an impression on her and are what she will miss most when she flies home to Germany today.
"It doesn't matter where you go, people talk to you and welcome you," Schroder said.
For the GHS students who played host, they will miss the students who have become extended members of their families.
"My brother went to college a few weeks ago so Nils has kinda replaced him," said Derek Walsh, a GHS senior. "It's like it used to be except he doesn't eat meat. We're still working on that."
Walsh will visit Germany on the next reciprocal trip. He said he is looking forward to the trip even more now that he has met some of the students.
Senior Mitchell MaGill went on the trip this summer and hosted the student he stayed with during his time in Germany.
The two friends were reunited, and MaGill had the opportunity to now show his hometown to German student Joshua Heper.
MaGill sees a lot of similarities not only between German students and American students but also between the towns of Greeneville and Hanover.
"The town is relatively the same, except the mountains aren't as big," MaGill said of Hanover.
The German exchange has opened both the German and American students' eyes to not only their differing culture, but their many similarities.
MaGill said he learned that a teenager is just a teenager, whether he is living in Germany or America.
"You expect them to act a different way, but we act the same way," he said.
The students who visited from Germany were Naemi Marie Pilz, Lara Hinze, Rebekka Freitag, Jordis Taake, Annabelle Bergmann, Jana Bauerfeld, Celine Pfeiffer, Melissa Joy Lucking, Madita Schroder, Sarah Dubbel, Joshua Heper, Nils Rahlmeier, Jan Christoph Henning, Luckas Pascal Schnittger, and Micha Sebastian Danielsmeyer.
The German teachers accompanying the students were Heiner Kuhr and Svenja Siekmann.
American students hosting students were Bailey Harris, Grant Crum, Sydnay Brown, Brianna Burnett, Ariel Killian, Abby Rae, Cleo Farr, Nicole Sallah, Kim Gosnell, Kaitlyn and Taylor Bailey, Mitchell MaGill, Derrick Walsh, Austin McKee, Mark McKee, and Logan Dickenson.
Jake and Leah Thwing and Macy Gass also helped with the visit.
GHS teacher Kimber McIntyre assisted Feathers with coordinating the visit.