So long, farewells, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

On Oct. 15 students from the Auguste-Viktoria-Gymnasium in the German village of Trier arrived, marking the beginning of a two-week stay in the homes of 15 New Trier students.
In June, these 15 students will travel to Germany and spend two weeks in the homes of their German counterparts.
The organization of this exchange was spearheaded by New Trier German teacher Venera Stabinsky and Auguste-Viktoria social studies teacher Anne Schaaf who contacted each other in 2012.
Stabinsky figures out the logistic of the exchange, organizes the German students’ itinerary, organizes field trips and activities, and matches the German and American students.
The exchange is run through the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) and includes an educational project that’s centered around a theme which changes each year.
This year’s theme was architecture; the German students created a presentation on one of Chicago’s historic buildings and the German influence on the Chicago skyline.
The Germans enjoyed their time in Chicago so much that the farewell breakfast on Oct. 30 was a tearful occasion.
“The exchange offers such a unique experience,” said Stabinsky. “It’s a big responsibility but it offers both the American and German students a hands on learning experience.”
The Germans and Americans were matched based on the applications they filled out prior to the trip. The pairings were based on their family situations, allergies, personality traits, and primarily the students’ interests.
The exchange offers students the opportunity to take on new perspectives, open their minds to different ways of life, and work on their language skills.
When traveling to Germany, the American students also take on huge responsibilities, including a good deal of self-advocacy.
Stabinsky said she saw a massive improvement in the skills and the motivation of students who participated. Seeing the practical uses of German made the students eve more dedicated to learning the language, she said.