Students participate in German American Partnership Program


For the past three weeks, students hosted 18 German exchange students from Hohen Neuendorf, Germany. Over the course of the visit, CHS students got a chance to give the German exchange students a sampling of life in America.

“I just loved showing them around. My favorite was going to Indianapolis with (the exchange students),” Dana Hsu, German exchange student host and sophomore, said. “We went to an Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) concert, walked around and shopped a bit. It was just really cool.”

According to the German American Partnership Program’s (GAPP) website, the main objective of the program is for host families, like Hsu’s, to integrate exchange students in their everyday life and in the classroom activities of their schools to provide them with a unique intercultural experience.

“By living with a family, (students are) going to learn all these great things, such as how classes are different, what their mealtime is like, what the conversation is like and what a family unit is made up of,” Laura King said, coordinator of the GAPP exchange program and German teacher.

As part of the program, host students will also get a chance to visit their exchange students in Germany.

“All those things that (students have) been learning in their German courses, whether it be for one year or five years, they now get to actually apply in a real world situation,” King said. “Now, we’re not pretending to ask for directions and walk around the school. They’re going to be in Germany, they’re going to be on their own and they’re going to have to figure out how to get to these places they want to get to, not some made up situation we create for them.”

Hsu, who is looking forward to traveling to Germany next June and picking up more German, strongly recommends this program for other students as well.

“I would recommend this program a lot because talking to a person who lives on the other side of the world is just really fun,” Hsu said. “And I think it’s a great cultural experience, especially if you are going back to their country. It (also) makes you appreciate where you live too.”

On the other hand, King hopes that students like Hsu will be able to gain a lot from this valuable experience.

“I think the key thing about this exchange versus any other trip (students) could take to another country is that it’s a home exchange,” King said. “And what I think is just so valuable about that is it’s not visiting Germany in 10 days to see as many places as they can, but it’s truly living with a family and living that culture, seeing that culture, breathing that culture, which is quite different than any vacation they could ever take.”