German exchange students at ER

Lucas Cook, Reporter

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After a 30 minute flight from Langenhagen, Germany to London, a three hour wait and a 10 hour direct flight to Seattle, 14 exchange students and their teacher, Jens Feurherm, were greeted by their hosts and German teacher Timothy Cirhan.

“I’m really excited about having an exchange student. So far we have a lot in common with each other, it’ll be a lot like having a sister around since I’m an only child,” junior Presley Malcom said. “We’re planning to just chill at Panera Bread.”

The German class connected with the Langenhagen Gymnasium so that each school can visit the other school, travel and help each other practice to help strengthen their understanding of culture, language skills and have someone who knows best about their country.

“I’ve been relearning a lot from my exchange student, Muriel,” junior Lexie Holden said. “I lived in Germany for the first 15 years of my life – I’ve forgotten a lot from speaking it full time to three hours a week in class.”

Many of the hosts said that because they got to have a German student they got a better idea of what Germany is like, and because of their hands-on understanding they said most of them wanted to visit Germany even more.

“I think that the program is working very well and that they’re learning that America isn’t anything like it is in the media,” Cirhan said. ”They’ll be able to realise they’re just like German teenagers, and do teenager stuff.”

The students were packed with plans – meals, lazer tag and a trip to the history museum.

“We went to Wild Waves, the art museum, a friend’s birthday party at Olive Garden, and we went to the mall a couple of times,” junior Megan Long said.

Most of the exchange students have never been to an American school before, so the difference in the school systems was surprising. In Germany, students go to a school before heading off and either going to a Gymnasium, Realschule, Hauptschule, or a Gesamtschule, and all four schools give a different degree for different purposes – heading directly into the workforce, going to college, being an artist, or a chance to go to a combination of all three schools and choose your degree.

“I think it’s cool because there are so many subjects here. The school spirit here makes our school seem a little boring,” junior exchange student Aleksandra Trojan said. “I really like the characters’ of the teachers too, they’re all so nice.”

German schools do not have school sports, instead they have community sports. Germany also has a very different schedule. A student could have six classes on Tuesday, but nine on Friday. A math class could last two periods, on Monday and not have their math again until Thursday.

“I think my students have benefitted from this trip a lot. One of my students even made plans to come back on her own next summer,” English teacher Feurherm said. “I really appreciate the opportunity to stay here at Emerald Ridge and that everyone has been so friendly.”

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