German exchange students get taste of Salisbury High School

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Cheerwine and Oreos were two sweet treats students from Germany had never experienced until they arrived in Salisbury last week.
“We don’t have any soft drink like that in Germany, so it’s much different,” Laura Peters said.
Switching classes and lunch in a cafeteria were also foreign concepts to the group of 20 from Gymnasium Brunsbuttel.
“At our school, every class has a room and the teachers travel from room to room,” German exchange student Kim Mewes said.
German teacher Gonde Detlefsen said that’s a feature she’d like to see at Gymnasium Brunsbuttel.
“I really, really like that teachers have their own classroom here because you can design it the way you want it to be,” she said. “We don’t have that much space, but it’s a great idea.”
Mewes said instead of having a lunch period, students have small breaks after each 45-minute class. She said she’s enjoyed sharing lunch with students in the cafeteria at Salisbury High.
“You get a chance to talk to people and feel a sense of community,” she said.
Adair Doran, a history teacher at Salisbury High, and Detlefsen worked together to arrange the visit. Students from Salisbury will travel to Germany in May to attend Gymnasium Brunsbuttel for a week.
Doran said she wants the students to realize they are more alike than they are different.
“Yes, our schools are different, but our students are still the same,” she said. “It was amazing the first night at the football game. You couldn’t tell who was German and who was American.”
This is the first time Salisbury High has hosted an exchange group for a week. Typically, one or two students come for the entire year.
“We’ve never done anything like this before, but it’s turned out great,” Doran said.
Students arrived last Friday and will leave Saturday morning. Throughout the week they attended classes, sat in on a Salisbury City Council meeting, took a trip to Carowinds and have plans to visit the Biltmore Estate.
“Trying to cram everything that you want to do into a week is really, really hard,” Doran said. “They’re probably going to be exhausted when they leave here.”
Frank Goede, who teaches German language and religion at Gymnasium Brunsbuttel, said he hopes the students soak in the visit.
“This is a wonderful experience to learn new things,” he said. “I want them to bring some new ideas home.”
Detlefsen said the school already sends students to France, Denmark and the Czech Republic, but the partnership with the United States dissolved about a decade ago. She’s thrilled that has been revived because the first foreign language German students learn is English.
“We are so happy and grateful to have this opportunity,” she said.
The Post talked to a group of students and their teachers Wednesday. Here is part of the interview.
How are Salisbury High and Gymnasium Brunsbuttel different?
“In Germany, whenever we want to say something we have to lift our hand and it’s really quiet. Here, when a teacher asks a question everybody just starts talking. And the teachers like a lot of tests.”
— Kim Mewes,
German exchange student
“I really just learned about how different their school system is than ours. They don’t have everyone in one school. Their schools are split up by everyone’s academic abilities.”
— Chuck Parks,
Salisbury High student
“The technology the students have to work with here. This is something we definitely have to catch up on in our schools.”
— Gonde Detlefsen,
German teacher
“I think the diversity of races because you have so many different types of people here.”
— Thore Schmidt,
German exchange student
How long have you been studying English?
“Fifth grade. I think it’s easier than other languages to learn.”
— Thies Busch,
German exchange student
“Fifth grade. We started to learn English by playing games, singing songs and learning our colors. Then we started learning all the words and grammar and how to speak it. It’s easier than French, Latin and Spanish.
What has been your favorite part of the visit?
“School, because it’s so much different than in Germany.”
— Laura Peters,
German exchange student
“The family life because I feel really comfortable and at home here.”
What is the best American food you’ve tried?
“I had already had hamburgers in Germany, but they are way bigger here. And philly cheesesteaks are good.”
— Busch
“Cheerwine. I think if they would sell it in our hometown a lot of people would buy it. I also had barbecue, which I really liked. And I had wings (Tuesday).”
— Mewes
What has surprised you?
“I expected the teachers to be more strict, but they aren’t.”
— Busch
“Actually, I have to say that a lot of the things I expect here are like what I expected. America is a lot like how we know it from movies.”
— Mewes
What will you tell your friends in Germany of this experience?
“I think everyone should try something like this because even if I tell them how great it is, they need to feel it themselves.”
— Mewes
“First, that it’s awesome in America. They’ll probably ask me about everything.”
— Busch
“I’d probably tell them about how different it is here.”
— Schmidt
What has your host family been like?
“We laugh a lot, the whole evening and the whole night before we go to bed. I really like it because that feels like I’m really home and I’m welcome.”
— Peters
“They are really interested in what I was saying and interested in how I live, they gave me the feeling that I’m welcome.”
— Mewes
“They have been so nice, I feel like I’ve got a second home here.”
— Busch
What has it been like to host a German student?
“It’s cool because I’ve gone to camp and met people from different countries before. It’s neat to find out about their culture. They’re like our sister for the week.”
— Katie Canipe,
Salisbury High student
“It’s like our family kind of got bigger, he came and fit right in.”
— Skyler Mikkelson,
Salisbury High student
“We’ve been doing a lot of fun things, it will be sad when they leave.”
— Parks
What do you wish you could sneak back to Germany?
“The behaviors of the people here. I think they enjoy their lives more.”
— Mewes
“Cheerwine because we don’t have it.”
— Schmidt