April 20, 2012 > German exchange students visit MSJHS
German exchange students visit MSJHS
By Angie Wang, photo by Angie Wang
For approximately two weeks, exchange students from Germany visited MSJHS and the Bay Area as a follow-up to a visit made to Germany last summer by MSJHS World History and Ethnic Studies teacher Risha Krishna and her students. "We were really lucky to be introduced to a new culture and school. We were able to experience life in Germany firsthand," said MSJHS student Nikhil Krishna, who participated in the trip.
This year, German teachers Barbara Geck and Angelika Goldmann accompanied their students on their visit to the U.S. "We were really fortunate that our school was chosen to do this exchange. It's great to see the languages and landscape while being surrounded by the essence of American society," said Goldmann.
During the MSJHS students' stay in Germany last summer with teacher Krishna and Principal Sandra Prairie, they had the opportunity to visit various museums to learn about the country's history with a different cultural perspective. While spending time at a school there, MSJHS students were paired with German students based on their interests. Because they were staying with host families rather than at hotels, "we were allowed a true glimpse into German culture," Krishna stated. Krishna and Prairie had the opportunity to stay with their counterparts, teachers and administers from the sister school in Germany.
Through the Germany Cultural Exchange Program, MSJHS was matched with a school in Germany with similar demographics. Other factors were also taken into consideration, which resulted in the pairing of MSJHS with a German school with excellent academics but somewhat mediocre facilities. Set up by the Fulbright Commission, the exchange allowed high school students of different culture and backgrounds to bond over "the language of teenagers," as teacher Krishna explained. "This was a great cultural opportunity and we were able to create friendships we'll cherish for a lifetime," said MSJHS student Shravya Saragala.
While visiting MSJHS, one of the German students, 17-year-old Lea said, "In America, people behave much better to each other, and even criticisms are spoken politely." Kathi, 17, agreed adding, "Everyone is so kind, and sometimes it complicates things." "Everything is bigger here, especially the cars and the school," said Caro, also 17. Tom, who is 16, misses the parties in Germany and his friends and family but has enjoyed the weather and the opportunities during his stay in the U.S. Marie, 17, most enjoyed visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and experiencing the diverse cultures in America. All five seemed to agree on the hospitality of the students and environment at MSJHS. "The students treat us like VIPs, and the teachers are so cool!" added Lea.
After the exchanges to Shenzhen, China and Germany, Krishna hopes that another teacher can continue the program in June of 2013. "Because of the wonderful support staff that is established, the students can really connect with one another. It makes the program really strong and enjoyable, and I would love to see another teacher establish another exchange in the future," concludes Krishna.
German students: Lea (front) and (back row) Marie, Caro, Kathi, and Tom