Posted October 26, 2012
Shaker High School students and their German
counterparts said after the first few days together,
they felt like family.
Over the last two weeks, Shaker High
School hosted a group of 23 German exchange students from
During the students’ stay in the United States,
they stayed with Shaker families and attended classes. They also
visited Shaker Junior High School and the elementary schools as
well, participating in a number of group activities. Shaker High
School students and their German partners also traveled to Boston
and New York City, visited the Hancock Shaker Village, and took a
tour of the New York State Capitol.
What Shaker High School students didn’t realize
was that by hosting an exchange student, they would have the
opportunity to learn not only about other cultures, but begin to
develop lifelong friendships.
“You think you’re not going to have anything to
talk about because of the language barrier, but that wasn’t the
case,” senior Josh Hulbert said. “We talked about everything and
became inseparable. My exchange partner became like family.”
Senior Vanessa Chan said that she and her German
partner tried to make the most of every minute they had together.
“We clicked immediately,” she said. “We tried to
cram so much in I think we were both suffering from sleep
The group of American and German students found
that, even though it was a small group, consisting of 50 students –
combined – it made for better interaction among the students. The
interaction with the host families reminded many German students of
their families at home, which gave them a lot of comfort.
“We met so many wonderful people here,” German
student Constantine Lerch said. “It was a life changing experience
for me. My host family was great – a perfect match. I will never
The American students will be visiting their
German counterparts in a few weeks in Germany. They are already
looking forward to it.
“I can’t wait to spend time with them again,”
Chan said. “It’s going to really great. We have gotten all of the
awkwardness that comes with meeting people for the first time out of
the way, now we can just enjoy being with each other again and
continuing to learn about each other’s cultures.”
While the exchange program offers opportunities
for German students, organizing the program for the teachers is a
lot of work.
"The time and work that the teachers put in to
pull all of this together is exceptional," said Foreign Language
Department Supervisor Galina Kats. "Going away to another country is
an enormous responsibility to watch out for the well-being of the
students for two weeks. It is designed to unite students and
teachers from Germany to the United State and to provide them with a
first-hand experience of the target language and culture."
The students said they will be utilizing social
media to continue to stay in touch, long after the exchange trips