Three Big Walnut High School students are hosting three students from Germany during a month-long stay as part of The Friendship Connection, Inc., an exchange program between high schools in the United States and Gymnasien in Germany.
Big Walnut High School German language teacher Frau Georgia Craig said the students from Germany will stay through late April; and that host students are the same age and gender and share similar interests as the visiting students.
Suri Eisenbach, who attends Tileman Schule in Limburg, Germany, is staying with Emily Hoffmann and her family; Vincent Gränwald, who attends BSB-Bädingen, is staying with Micah Abrogast and his family; and Amelie Happ, who attends Marienschule FWDA, is staying with Bailey Armstrong and her family.
Asked about the differences between attending high school in Germany and school in the U.S., Suri said the lessons are the same here every day.
“In Germany the lesson changes every day,” she said.
While not mandatory, Big Walnut students have the option of visiting Germany over the summer and staying with the families of the students they hosted. Many take advantage of the opportunity, and even return to Germany for visits in subsequent years.
Bailey Armstrong also hosted a student last year, and subsequently visited Germany where she experienced typical German school days and commented on the differences from an American perspective.
“Most classes there are one and half to two hours long,” Armstrong said. “The students would do their work in class so there was not as much homework involved.”
Vincent said in Germany the school day is longer: “And teachers are not so strict here like they are in Germany,” he said.
Asked if the strictness was for behavior or to push the students to achieve more, Amelie said both.
“They are strict because they want you to behave as adults and have more respect for teachers,” Amelie said.
Frau Craig said the Friendship Connection is true to its name.
“Many of these student’s relationships last for decades,” she said. “When you live with a student you’re hosting you really learn the value of another language and the value of our own; and you learn the value of another culture and truly become connected with it.”
The Friendship Connection was conceived and developed by Ohio high school German language teachers in cooperation with English language teachers in Germany.
The Friendship Connection goal is to provide an inexpensive, on-going exchange program that enables participants to enhance their ability to speak German and English; and to develop a greater appreciation of the German and American culture as well as long-lasting friendships with their host partners.
In the first 33 years, nearly 32,000 German and American students have participated in the Friendship Connection exchange program.
For additional information about The Friendship Connection go to < friendshipconnection.org >.