German students visit Salisbury High and the state

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

By Roshen Amin and Will Fowler

Salisbury High School

In the spring, Adair Doran, a well-loved teacher, proposed an idea to students of Salisbury High School about an exchange program with students from Sylt, Germany, a small island in the northwestern part of the country.

Open to everyone, students from all grades attended the first interest meeting in her classroom, eager to learn about the students coming, to choose hosting arrangements and to plan exciting activities. In total, the group consisted of 17 students from Salisbury High and 16 students from Sylt, conversing over the phone throughout the summer before they even arrived.

The students from Sylt, along with two teachers, Gonde Detlefsen and Dirk Hilpert, visited our nation’s capital in mid-September, sharing with us their incredible experiences as they took a train to Salisbury. They arrived Sept. 20, welcomed by the signs, cheers and chatters of an exuberant group of Americans.

“It was awesome. Everyone was holding posters as we looked for who we were going to live with for the next 10 days,” said Roshen Amin, a student at Salisbury High.

To show them around North Carolina, the Salisbury students took them to the Biltmore Estate and the NASCAR Hall of Fame and on the Downtown Salisbury Ghost Walk.

On Monday and Friday, the Sylt students were able to get a glimpse of the historic Salisbury High building and could not stop raving about the differences between school in America and Germany. They tasted barbecue and Cheerwine at Hendrix Barbecue and took a hay ride at the Lazy 5 Ranch.

Outside the originally planned activities, the group of Salisbury students took it upon themselves to plan exciting activities on evenings and days off. On the first Saturday, the students got to know each other while taking a dip in Lake Norman, kick-starting their heartfelt bonds.

On Wednesday, an e-learning day for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools district, the group organized a trip to Hanging Rock State Park. In smaller groups, the exchange students experienced the Rowan County Fair, shopped at the busy Concord Mills Mall, bowled at Woodleaf Lanes for hours and more.

Perhaps the most fun nights were spent wandering the cluttered aisles of Walmart.

“We had heard about it so much, and it was exciting to finally be inside one,” said Konrad Fahnert of Sylt.

All the students, German and American alike, made countless memories over the course of the 10 short days the exchange students were here.

“I never could have imagined the amount of pure joy held in that week. Each and every one of the exchange students had something so awesome and unique about them, which made it literally impossible to not become friends,” says Salisbury High junior Will Fowler.

He was not the only host with such powerful emotion about the experience.

“The German exchange students really pushed me out of my comfort zone,” said Lillie Rusher, also a junior. “It shocked me how easy it was to become best friends, and even family with them, and made it even harder for me to say goodbye.”

The group of 17 host students from Salisbury plan to stay with the Germans in Sylt in May and will experience their school and community for a week, as well as visit the capital of Germany. The cost of the plane fare to Germany alone is prohibitive, and the students are hosting many fundraisers throughout the year to help cover some of the costs.

For more information on the experience, feel free to ask any of the students who participated or call Doran at Salisbury High School. The hope is that this exchange will become a yearly event and open to more people as time progresses.