Tri-Valley hosts German students through GAPP
Published: October 10, 2013
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HEGINS - Some gave their foreign guests "a fright". Others taught their counterparts how to play a musical instrument, or where to get some of the best local foods.
Tri-Valley students said goodbye this week to students from Lloyd Gymnasium in Bremerhaven, Germany, as part of a German-American Partnership Program (GAPP) exchange. For the past two weeks, 15 students and two teachers from Bremerhaven have attended classes and joined host families within the Tri-Valley community, sharing an interest in language and culture.
For Bremerhaven student Linus Albat, the Tri-Valley trip was an opportunity of a lifetime. "My dream has always been to travel the world. This is my first time in America. I'm 18 now, and I thought, 'I have to take a chance now,'" he said.
"I had heard the stereotype that Americans aren't open-minded or friendly," he said. "That's not true at all, and I'm happy about it," he said.
His Tri-Valley host, Jacob Hylton, plans to visit Bremerhaven in June 2014. "I saw past exchanges and thought it was cool. I know I'll be going to Germany, and now I'll know some of the people," Hylton said.
One of the things Hylton wanted Albat to see while he was here was a haunted house experience at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
"I love Halloween and everything scary," said Hylton. "But, he laughed the whole time," Hylton joked, of Albat, who appeared not to get too startled.
"It was really exciting and fun, but we don't really have those in Germany. Only in our amusement parks," Albat said.
Meanwhile, Tri-Valley ninth-grader Victoria Boughan took her guest, Aylin Inan, to see the Bloomsburg Fair. "I wanted her to see the different foods we have and to experience the fair," she said. Since Boughan has only had one year of German language classes, she also wanted to participate in the exchange to improve how she converses.
"I like listening to how she pronounces things. You can hear how they (Germans) say the words and understand more," Boughan said.
"The food is different here. It's very sweet," said Inan. "I wanted to do the exchange, because I am interested in other cultures and I wanted to improve my English." Inan noted several differences between the two schools. "Here, there are school busses; we take public busses to school. Our school is bigger, and we don't use our lockers," she said.
Prior to the exchange, Tri-Valley students who wanted to be hosts filled out a survey form, detailing some of their interests, in hopes of being matched with a German student with similar likes.
Tri-Valley's Gabrielle Quandel and Aline Radke say they were well-matched.
"She has a lot of talents. She sings and she even taught me how to play the guitar," said Radke about her host.
"I wanted to come to America to see more of the culture and how people live," Radke said. Quandel took Radke to Hershey Park, where she could learn how chocolate was made. She also took her to the Majestic Theater in Pottsville for a Disney Show performance, and planned to take her guest to the Lehigh Valley Mall for some shopping, to introduce her to brands of products she may not have seen before.
"I really enjoyed Hershey Park," said Radke. Of the average American student's diet, she said, "Americans don't eat as many fruits and vegetables as in Germany."
Back in 1996, German instructor Marian Tichy applied to GAPP (German-American Partnership Program, which is a subsidiary of Goethe Institut) for a partner school.
"In the application I indicated that I had no preference as to where the partner school in Germany was located. About a month or so after I submitted the application, I received a telephone call from Guenther Riemann from Bremerhaven, who also was looking for a partner school and received my name and number from GAPP," Tichy said. "It was just luck of the draw, totally random, that we were matched up. We have been partner schools ever since."
Tichy brought the program along with her when she came to Tri-Valley in 2005. The first Lloyd Gymnasium/Tri-Valley exchange took place in the 2007-08 school year. Now in 2013-14, the schools are in the midst of their fourth exchange. On alternating years, students visit their respective host schools. In June 2014, Tri-Valley students are planning to travel to Bremerhaven.
Before arriving in Hegins, the German guests stopped in Washington, D.C., and toured the nation's capitol. On Sept. 22, they were united with their host students and families. Tichy and Tri-Valley High School Principal Charles Hall welcomed the German group during a reception Sept. 23, when students began their first regular school-day schedule.
In addition to attending classes, students have been taking field trips over the past few weeks to local destinations including: Pa. State Capitol Building in Harrisburg with Rep. Mike Tobash, R-125; Lancaster County Amish tour; Ricketts Glen State Park; Pioneer Tunnel and Coal Mining Museum; and Mountain Discovery Program at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
On the weekends and during any down time students weren't in school, they were encouraged to join in whatever activities their host families were doing.
"My German colleagues and I agree that the exchange is most meaningful when guests actively participate in the family lives of their hosts," Tichy said. "I like to see the American and German kids interact, sitting with each other at lunch, for example, and we are seeing that," she said.
This is the third year Bremerhaven instructor Pierre Jahic has made the Tri-Valley trip. "Of utmost concern to me is to let the students off the leash. I don't want them to approach me about the small things. I want them to explore on their own. The less they need me, the better," Jahic said. "I tell them to expect the unexpected. It makes it more fun that way. This exchange has been a great success."
Joining Jahic this year is fellow instructor Mandy Jozifek.
Over the years, Tichy said she's learned to better estimate the time it takes to complete field trips, and each year the chemistry among the students is unique. Host families are always needed, Tichy said, and she'd like to see links to each school's website to help promote their exchange. For more information about each school, visit www.tri-valley.k12.pa.us and www.lloydgymnasium.de/en/home/news.