German Exchange

From March 14 – March 30, 2018, Riverbend hosted German exchange students for a two week period. The 17 German students we hosted are from Straubing, Bavaria, Germany and their ages range from 15-16, as they are all current sophomores.
Typically the group of students who come are split between Riverbend and Courtland, but that was not the case this year as we got majority of the students. Riverbend got 17 exchange students and Courtland only received five students. Students at our school are hosting and have given the exchange students a completely new experience. They took two official group field trips to Washington, D.C, and Williamsburg, but the students visited many different places with their host families: Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Shenandoah, and Virginia Beach.
Senior, Madeline Marshall who hosted Lena said, “My favorite place to take them was colonial Williamsburg because it was cool to see their reactions to seeing what they read about in their English textbooks.” Lena Räß, German exchange student said, “My favorite part of the trip was shopping in Potomac Mills.” When asked about what she learned through her hosting experience Marshall explained “I learned more about German politics, which is fascinating. It’s a lot different reading an article about “How the Teenagers of Germany Feel About Merkel”, and actually hearing their individual opinions about her. I loved learning about the German culture, and how similar, but also different it is. It was also interesting to learn what the German students thought of Americans!”
Frau Mades, German teacher, said, “I love seeing my students interacting with the exchange students and watching them discover their similarities and differences; watching them gain an appreciation of another culture and renew their appreciation of their own culture.” Mades has been doing this exchange at Riverbend for five years now and it grows more every year.
This program has had an outreach to many different families and students and has truly benefited them all. “Everyone has been overwhelmingly positive about the experience. Many of the students who were involved in the exchange are still in contact with their exchange partners, even after 7 years,” Mades said. “We’ve all benefited from the program, in both language and culture terms, whether it was practicing German with native speakers, learning how to make German dishes, having the exchange partners and teachers lead discussions and give presentations about their culture and on the other side, we’ve done the same thing for the school in Germany.”