As I mentioned earlier, we've been so busy the last few days! Wednesday we went to the local hospital, which is the second largest in Bavaria. We saw their laundry facility, their kitchen, and a few intense behind the scenes rooms that we were not expecting! Their laundry facility washes 13 tons of laundry a day! I don't think many of the students understood the magnitude -- I can't imagine that much laundry! They got to watch open heart surgery live while the doctor talked to them on camera. It was very kind of Feyyaz's mother to organize this visit for us.
Thursday, we took the train to Munich for the day. Our tour guide was an English teacher at the school, Herr Sergocki. He lives in Munich, and it was great to have a resident's knowledge of the cultural highlights. We saw five churches and also had a few hours to shop. The students loved Munich's big city atmosphere.
Friday and Saturday the American students only took a trip to the Bodensee, or Lake Constance. This large lake is bordered by Switzerland, Austria and Germany. We visited Friedrichshafen (where our youth hostel was), Constance, Meersburg, Lindau, and Bregenz. This was a different feel from our trip last weekend, as we experienced a more coastal feeling. Our students got to swim in the lake Friday night. This is also the area where Westchester student Marina Mueller's family is from, and she and her mother and brother visited us briefly! What a small world!
Today, we visited the family farms of German host mother Mrs. Starz. We went to a dairy farm and a pig farm. We also got a hay ride! This hilly region near Stuttgart is also home to many caves which used to be the home of the Neanderthals. By visiting these caves, we were connected to this country's ancient past; and, by visiting the farms, we were connected with their present economy.
Tomorrow we take our last group trip to the walled city Rothenberg. Wednesday will be a sad but exciting day -- the goodbye party and a World Cup game!
We've been able to get such a varied picture of this particular part of the world. I know that many times our students have said, "Well, we have farms in the US!" (Or something similar about any given trip) What they have been able to learn (even if they don't realize it yet), however, is about all facets of this particular region. We've learned about its economy, its geography, and its people and their values. These daily trips, in addition to the family life experienced in our host families, help deepen our understanding of Bavaria and its residents. It's the ability to look at another part of the world and to learn to respect and appreciate its differences that I hope our students have gained from this trip. We've had a great three weeks!
Our students have been busy giving presentations on various topics to the German English classes. So many teachers have come up to me to let me know what a great job they've been doing.
Yesterday afternoon, Sebastian Kinttel's father, a park ranger, gave us a tour around the Western Forest here in Diedorf. This is part of the land owned by the city of Augsburg, and they use it to produce lumber in addition to providing the local residents with a beautiful nature preserve. They have an exotic tree section where they've planted trees that are not native to Germany. We learned that Germany's forests only have 20 species of trees, far less than many other places around the world. After a walk, Mr. Knittel built a fire and we grilled bratwursts! We were back to nature, for sure.
Today, Vera Vogt's mother let us visit the preschool where she works, called a kindergarden in German. This "kindergarden" was really the equivalent of American preschools. It was interesting for me to see that each classroom was mixed with children who were from three to six years old, as opposed to our preschools that typically group by age. The German kids LOVED the American students. They played, and played, and played. Our students did not know much German, and the German children did not know much English, so the common language was the game of tag, the swingset, and a slide. This was fun for all ages!
Tomorrow we visit the local hospital, which is the second largest in Bavaria. Many of the German parents have opened their arms to our American students, organizing the tours of their workplaces. We are so appreciative. This helps us get a more rounded understanding of the area. I know that many of the Americans are having fun socially, but they are also learning in detail about this area's industry, economy, education, and family life.
We just got back from an amazing weekend! The weather was perfect, the scenery was beautiful, and the company was great! Friday we traveled south to first visit Linderhof Palace, one of King Ludwig's homes. We then made a quick stop in Oberamergau, where the famous Passion Plays take place. We took a quick stroll around this quaint Bavarian town. Finally, we made it to youth hostel Mittenwald. Take a look at the amazing view of the Alps we had. Our students were able to play with 6th grade students from the northern part of Germany who were there with their teachers. It was so fun to watch the different ages and cultures bond through volleyball and soccer (of course!).
Saturday, we split into two groups. The first group went hiking at a gorge, and the second group got to go climbing/ziplining over a gorgeous turqoise river flowing around a glacier. The water was so cold as it splashed on our feet! It was so invigorating. Both groups met up in the early afternoon for some free time to stroll around downtown Mittenwald, famous for the fresco paintings on the exteriors of the buildings and homes. After lunch and a bit of shopping, we took the cable car up to the Karwendel where we hiked around the mountain taking in the breathtaking views (and throwing a few snowballs!). Some of our "Carolina girls" wore flip flops to the top (despite our reminders for better shoes) and had to stay at the cafe while the rest of us hiked threw the last bit of snow! We also saw a traditional Bavarian wedding, complete with the Alpine horn blowers! (I'm telling you, the weekend could not have been more perfect!)Saturday night at the youth hostel, World Cup fever continued as we all gathered to watch the USA game on the big screen.
Today we got up early and hiked to a gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Garmisch is a mountain town that was the home to the 1936 winter Olympics and also hosts many ski competitions. We saw the Olympic stadium and the ski jump, which is huge! We finished the trip with a spectacular grand finale -- Neuschwanstein castle. Students took a brisk 20 minute walk up to the castle to take photos of the exterior, as we had to rush back for another World Cup event! The Germany/England game, which, as I am now writing this, has turned out to be been a big win!
Tomorrow we are going to a local forest to walk and look at some exotic trees and cook out. Mr. Knittle, father to Sebastian, will be our guide. In the morning, our students will continue giving their presentations to the German students' English classes. I've heard so many positive comments from the teachers; our students are impressive!
Yesterday, June 22, we took a walking tour of downtown Augsburg. Our guide was Mr. Peter Dempf, a local author and historian (and also a teacher at their school). Students saw the city's cathedral, the Fuggerei (a public housing neighborhood created over three hundred years ago and still in use), and the Rathaus (city hall) and its golden ceiling. Augsburg was orginally founded by the Romans, so we were also able to see some Roman ruins.
Today was the official welcome reception. The party was held at school during the last few periods. The school's jazz band played and Patrick shared a very entertaining slide show with photos from the German group's visit to the USA. The German parents had all made delicious snacks (some sweet and some salty), and Mrs. Albert and Mrs. Hood presented several gifts to the German school. We gave them two books about the Triad area and some baseball gloves and baseballs!
Tomorrow we meet with the mayor and Friday we leave for a weekend trip to Mittenwald. Most of us seem to be having a great time, as I'm sure you can see from the smiles in the pictures.
Today was our first day of school. We started the morning with a homeroom check-in time, and then we had a geography lesson and a German lesson taught by two of the teachers at the German school. We went to a few classes with our partners, and then many of us headed home for “Mittagessen” (lunch) with our partners. Traditionally, Germans eat a heavier, warm meal at lunch and a lighter dinner, but many of us may find that this is not the case with all of our host families. Speaking of food, many of us are learning to handle new situations when presented with food that is different! This is a new experience, and I am sure that by the end of the week we’ll have adjusted! Mrs. Albert has noticed that the boys seem to have no problem with the food, though! Tomorrow, we will have a guided tour of followed by a tour of the . We’ve got a very busy week, which includes the formal reception at the school, a meeting with the mayor, and a weekend trip to Mittenwald to hike in the mountains and to see some castles!
Today we were up early to take a walking tour of historic Charleston. We learned about architecture, ghosts, and the local history. The weather could not be more perfect! The temperatures were in the 70s today with plenty of warm sunshine!
After the tour, students had free time to shop at The Old Slave market and the shops around it. We then proceeded by boat to Fort Sumter, the sight of the first Civil War battle (or as our tour guide called it, "The War Between the States."
We ate dinner at a place on the water called California Dreaming. I felt terrible for our poor server who had to take care of a party of 53 people!
We've had a great trip and will be sad to see in conclude tomorrow after the tour of the Yorktown.
Today we boarded the bus by 9:00 to drive to Charleston, SC. We stopped at McDonald's for lunch - hamburgers and fries! Upon our arrival, we went to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. We had beautiful weather to walk the grounds and see the gorgeous gardens. It was such a relaxing and pleasant afternoon. The plantation and gardens were founded in the late 1600s, so German and American students were able to hear about how this home and its gardens have survived two wars over three centuries.
Tonight students were dropped off at the mall for some shopping and dinner. We have just now checked into the hotel and getting ready to get a good night's sleep (hopefully!) before another busy day tomorrow. We'll be taking a walking tour of Charleston and going to Fort Sumter. It has been great to see how the students have bonded together (a five hour bus ride really helps!). We are all enjoying this special time and the memories we are making.
If you've not done so, make sure to click on the link toward the top of the page that says, "Photos and Videos." This will take you to the slideshows of the pictures taken so far.
Tuesday was the German students' first day at school. Westchester headmaster Dr. Cantwell welcomed the German students before they were guided on a tour by Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Albert. Teachers and Westchester students alike were excited to have special guests in their classrooms. Northwest students were also greeted by the principal and taken on a tour by students in Mrs. Worthington's German classes.
Wednesday, the German students boarded the big yellow bus again to take a tour of Krispy Kreme. They made their own doughnuts and brought dozens back to school with them! After a pizza lunch, they made their way to Thomas Buses, where they were able to see where the big yellow buses are made. We are so thankful for these local businesses who opened their doors and allowing these students to tour.
Last night was the welcome party. Students who arrived early at the home of Katie Rice were able to ride horses! Southern style Lexington Barbeque was on the menu for this special gathering of families.
We're off to Charleston tomorrow! Check back for updates soon.