Germans bring culture and hope to get some in return

Spiky hair, designer jeans, and strange accents: all of these characteristics describe our guests from Wulfrath, Germany. The German Exchange has been going on for 23 years and students traveling across the Atlantic every year find that school in Wulfrath is very different from Ames High School. “There are so many people walking the halls,” Oliver, one of the exchange students, said. “Our teachers are the ones who travel from class to class, while the students stay in their classroom.” In Wulfrath the high school has grades six through 13, yet they still only have about as many students as Ames High. The halls are not as crowded and they enjoy longer breaks between classes. The younger kids play soccer between classes, while the older kids socialize and grab something to eat. “In Germany we don’t have lunchtime,” Oliver said, “and we don’t have a cafeteria either.” Another huge difference is how a German student’s day is organized. The Germans have school from eight to around one, when they can do extra curricular activities like band, choir, sports, or go home for lunch. This leaves no need for a cafeteria or food service. Lunchtime came as a shock to the exchange students beacause in Germany hundreds of kids eating lunch in the same room seems out of the ordinary. While in Ames, the 14 exchange students from Germany stayed with host families. They experienced family life and American school by attending classes here at Ames High. In Germany classes meet only two or three times a week, while here they meet every day. Also, while at Ames High they each did presentations in German class about different aspects of German life. The presentations included many German students’ interests like rock festivals, reality television, and information about their hometown of Wulfrath. “The presentations were all very good,” junior Aaron Kenton said. “Especially the presentations where they threw out German candy.” Germany is very well known for its chocolate. The candy given out by the Germans was made by a German company called Haribo, which specializes in gummy bears. We also have two students staying the entire semester – Nikki Lieber and Michael Ruske. They are also living with host families, attend a full schedule of classes, and get to take on the role of another family member. They’ve kept themselves busy by doing sports like cross country and other activities at Ames High. The German exchange is a great learning experience. Many of the exchange students from Germany will return the favor of hosting when Ames High students travel to Germany next June. With friendly faces on both sides, for two weeks every year a mixing of cultures occurs throughout Ames High.