Twenty-seven Watertown-Mayer High School students spent a month in Europe on the German American Partnership Program over the summer.
This is the sixth such trip since 2000 organized by high school German teacher Lynn Strom. The group, all of whom have been learning German, traveled through several countries for their first week and stayed with a German family for the next three weeks.
Their adventure began with four days of fun in London. Activities included a four-hour bike tour through the gardens and past city landmarks like Buckingham Palace; visits to Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the London Tower and Bridge; and some shopping in areas like Spitalfields Market. They all used their rain jackets and umbrellas, as this June was London’s rainiest on record.
From England, the group flew to Switzerland and spent three sunny days in the small village of Grindelwald. Although the showers did not stop any fun in London, the kids were happy to have perfect weather for hiking (and eating bars and bars of chocolate) in the Swiss Alps. Around every bend in the hiking trails, the scenery was breathtaking and worthy of a photo!
From here, the group drove north to the Black Forest and the German city of Lahr. For months leading up to the trip, the WMHS students had been getting to know a host partner and family. Upon arrival, the families finally met “their American” and brought them home.
Students became members of their new family, and were immersed in family life, culture, school, and the German language. Breaking stereotypes and getting to know a different culture is the main focus of the German American Partnership Program, and happily this occurred time and time again during their stay.
The second half of this exchange program comes in October when the American students’ partners come to Watertown to live with them and get to know American culture. The WMHS students are looking forward to sharing their everyday lives with their German partners, and maybe even take them to a Friday night football game.
Chaperone and high school English teacher Emily Brisse asked the kids at the end of the trip to write something that they learned in Europe. Here are some of their answers:
• Europeans drive aggressively.
• I learned that Public Viewing (for soccer) is one of the most awesome things ever!
• PDA is WAY more acceptable here.
• I learned that everyone’s culture is so different. You know that culture is different, but when you experience it, it’s so cool. This trip makes me want to travel even more. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Thanks so much for allowing this trip. I learned a lot about myself and other things.
• I learned how to be responsible with my money…okay, MORE responsible than before.
• I learned how to become more independent; to take advantage of ALL of life’s opportunities and adventures; German/European traditions; try everything; live life to the fullest.
• I learned that I love to travel! I like exploring and seeing new things. I’m very glad I chose to go on this trip. I also want to say thank you to our chaperones: Tracy Hulley, Frau Strom, and Mrs. Brisse for coming along on the trip and for all their help!
• Mastered the London Underground.
• My German has gotten much better.
• I learned no matter what language you speak, love is universal; how to play handball; and that I love Germany!
• That life is full of new opportunities and experiences, and that you need to take advantage of them and do everything you can while you have the chance!