Northwest Horizons

The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming, the Germans are here

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By Clare Kilmartin on March 24th, 2015:

From March 11 to March 25, Northwest has hosted German exchange students through a program called GAPP. This program allowed for 20 German students to come to America and live with host families. Northwest has 18 students hosting German students. Throughout this time period, German students shadowed their Northwest student’s daily life at school, as well.

“Our German program is fantastic,” junior Miranda Cecil said. “I think the teachers really care about this program because it’s important that we understand other cultures.”

Through the GAPP program, it not only has allowed for German students to learn about the American culture, but for Northwest students to learn about the German culture.

“I love speaking German and learning about the culture” junior Shannon Rigsbee said. “The exchange offered a great opportunity to learn more about Germany in a modern sense aside from what we learn in class.”

Rigsbee is hosting one German student, Yasmin Kellner. At first, there were some clear difficulties.

“There was some difficulty understanding one another and connecting with each other,” Rigsbee said. “After I learned more about her and her extent of English knowledge, it was much easier to connect with her, and our experience became so much better.”

For Rigsbee, hosting a German student has brought many experiences and memories.

“Our experiences have been nothing but amazing.” Rigsbee said. “We have been laser tagging, to an arcade, painting pottery, to the beach, to a museum, to church, and to extracurricular activities and events at Northwest.”

The GAPP program has not only allowed for German students to shadow a Northwest student, but they also have taken field trips to many local places in the Greensboro area. The students have gone to the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory, Old Salem, UNCG, and The International Civil Rights Center and Museum. At the end of their trip in Greensboro, they will travel to Washington D.C. and the Outer Banks.

“Yasmin really enjoyed seeing everything in our area,” Rigsbee said.

Cecil also is hosting a German student, Franziska Panzer.

“It’s been really cool to meet some new people,” Cecil said.

For Panzer, her favorite experience with the GAPP program has been shadowing Cecil at school.

“Visiting the school is so different,” Panzer said. “We have more subjects and [here] teachers are like your friends and not a higher person. We don’t have that relationship with our teachers.”

For every German student, the experience is different. However, every German student has one thing in common: adapting to the culture.

“My favorite part has been seeing her reactions, both positive and negative, to some of the things in America that Americans view as totally normal. Yasmin really enjoyed seeing everything in our area and trying new foods and activities.”

Coming to America, the German students also looked forward to understanding the stereotypes of American culture.

“The stereotype is school buses and fast food restaurants,” Panzer said. “Some of that is true. Some of that is over exaggerated.”

Aside from stereotypes, coming to America and hosting a German student has been an incredible learning experience.

“I wanted to get to know other people and learn about the culture,” Panzer said. “I wanted to get more self-confidence.”

Not only have both German students and Northwest students had fun and learned from one another, but have built a special bond.

“It’s so crazy how close two strangers can become friends when being around each other for such a short time,” Rigsbee said. “It has been such a unique experience. We have spent so much time together, it has been impossible not to become close. It has been so enjoyable to create a new friendship.”

While saying good-bye to the German students will be sad, the Northwest students have taken a lot out of this experience.

“[I took] away a new friendship and a new knowledge of culture from a different part of the world,” Rigsbee said. “Getting to know her has been a life changing experience.”

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The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming, the Germans are here