“The people were all so nice and friendly.”
“We were always welcome.”
Those are just a few of the reactions of 12 German high school students and two of their teachers as they said good-bye to Boardman, Fitch and Poland high schools and their host families after an 11-day Thanksgiving visit to the United States.
The group from the Gesamtschule in Hennef, Germany, was the seventh group from that school to make the Thanksgiving season exchange. Arrangements for the exchange were made by Volker Manz and Hubertus Luke in Germany and Sieglinde Warren in Poland, with the cooperation of Boardman and Fitch High School staff, students, teachers and administrators. The exchange began the Saturday before Thanksgiving and ended with the students leaving for Germany on Nov. 30.
During their time in the United States, in addition to attending classes with their American hosts, the Germans experienced a number of activities exposing them to American culture, including a performance of “Cats” at BHS. Many had seen the movie, "High School Musical," and were now able to experience an actual high school musical production. The students and families also participated in a potluck dinner on their last evening in Ohio, as well as the traditional Thanksgiving activities enjoyed by American families. Several students and their hosts shared their experiences with the Rotary Club of Austintown.
A highlight of the visit was a trip to Washington, D.C., where the students saw a piece of the Berlin Wall, which for some of the German students was a first. The students toured the Capitol building and realized that although the building is similar to a museum, it is also the work site of the U.S. government.
The students also had an opportunity to a ride in an Amish buggy and visit an Amish school near Sugarcreek. The students in the Amish school recited original writings and interacted with the Germans and their American hosts.
Boardman and Fitch students who hosted the Germans will travel to Hennef in June 2012 for a 10-day visit. While there, the students will live in the homes of those whom they hosted. Friendships will be renewed and the Americans will be exposed to German culture and customs.
Photo special to the Town Crier
Visiting the Berlin Wall in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., were Brittany Bailing, of Boardman; Robert Dratwia, of Hennef, Germany; Chris Green, of Austintown; Ceanna Ingram, of Austintown; Anna-Lena Hagemann, of Hennef; and Laura Green, of Austintown as part of a school exchange program, led by Sieglinde Warren. The German students headed home Nov. 30, where their American counterparts will visit them this summer.