NEWTON, NJ – Newton High School has special guests from Germany for a few weeks in October. Twenty students from Heimschule St. Landolin in Ettenheim stayed with host families and attended classes at Newton for two of the three weeks.
The visitors were most eager to share their thoughts on the warm reception they received from the Newton High School students and staff.
“Everyone here is so friendly,” and “people are so nice here,” and “they really welcomed us with open arms” and “everyone makes us feel welcome,” and “they were interested in getting to know us,” and “it was better than we thought it would be,” were just some of the enthusiastic compliments shared by the ninth and tenth grade students.
“I really like how people don’t judge you here,” one young man said. “They don’t judge you by your clothes or your looks. Not like they do at home. It was really nice. They just wanted to get to know you and know about you.”
“It was not because the students expected people to be rude,” chaperone English teacher Philipp Drechsler said. “It is because in Germany people are more reserved.”
The middle week of the three week trip, the students traveled to Washington DC and New York City.
While the German students were here they got to eat like American teens. The overwhelming favorite was “Reeses” and said they enjoyed bagels, fries, pancakes, mac and cheese, pop tarts, burritos. One student said he had squirrel and another venison while on a Boy Scout camping weekend.
They enjoyed the new experiences of Halloween and trick or treating, Homecoming Dance, shopping at the Rockaway Mall and their trip to New York City. The response to the Washington trip was tepid, “because they were bored with all of the museums,” German teacher Frau Hanning-Eisenberger said.
In New York City the German students found Times Square to be “colorful” with “so many people” and “a lot of lights.” The Nicks v Nets basketball game at Madison Square Garden was also memorable but mostly because “the food was so expensive,” and because of the celebrity sightings.
"I liked the view from the top of the Empire State building," one boys said.
A visit to the Statue of Liberty was also memorable.
The exchange students were visiting through the German American Partnership Program or GAPP. Every other year the German students visit Newton and then in the spring, after New Jersey schools have started summer vacation, a contingent of Newton students go to Germany.
“This is the seventh time the exchange has happened,” Drechsler said.
While at the high school the German students were able to attend classes with their host students or visit another class that interested them.
“The teachers were very supportive too,” Drechsler.
The German students also made presentations to the Newton students on a variety of topics ranging from soccer and school to food.
Dreschler said before they left on the trip the principal of the Heimschule St. Landolin school told the students this program is the sort of thing that can foster good feelings between people in different countries and is “the beginning of a way to create world peace.”
Photos provided by German exchange student Peter Forderer