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May 21, 2013 > Students prepare for Germany trip

Students prepare for Germany trip

Submitted By Risha Krishna and Charlie Brucker, Ph.D.
Photos By Miriam G. Mazliach

This summer, a group of students and two teachers will be visiting Germany, as part of a unique program that started several years ago. In the summer of 2010, Mrs. Risha Krishna, an Ethnic Studies teacher at Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS), visited Germany on a Fulbright scholarship in order to understand their school system and develop a program to connect high school students across the globe. This led to the German Cultural Exchange Program to enhance diplomatic relations among students at an early age.

The program's goal is to introduce students from two schools across the world from each other: MSJHS (Fremont) and Otto Hanh (Gottingen, Germany). Both high-performing schools have similar demographics and a reputation of academic excellence. Through this cultural exchange, students develop diplomatic skills and etiquette, humanizing teenagers in both countries in ways that cannot be learned through textbooks. The goal and hope of the Fulbright Kommission is that mutual understanding is established between these students, and these personal ties can be replicated on a wider, diplomatic level between countries through the exchange of persons, compassion, and skills.

In 2011, Ms. Krishna developed a pilot program where she and MSJHS's principal, Sandra Prairie, led a handful of students to Germany. They soaked up German culture by living with friendly host families in the small, cozy town of Gottingen, an academically centered town that takes pride in its emphasis on education and is home to the prestigious Gottingen University. To an historian, it's a quaint intellectual haven with ancient roots. To an engineer, it is Silicon Valley meets Measurement Valley.

The group visited the historic cities of Dresden and Berlin, as well as a variety of famous landmarks. U.S. students also tagged along with their host students to experience a full day of German public schooling to understand vastly different school systems. The following spring, the German host students visited MSJHS to experience daily life of an American student and absorb U.S. culture.

Now, in 2013, the third annual Germany Cultural Exchange is about to take place June 19-29. After an application process, 13 students were selected to represent Mission San Jose High School, and will be led by Dr. Brucker, a math teacher, and Mrs. Krishna, a history teacher, in order to understand how math, science, and history are taught in German schools.

The selected MSJHS students have held monthly bonding sessions in order to engage socially in themed events, such as "Picnic in the Park," or a bowling party. They've learned how to work together as a team and learned German phrases. Also, for the past few months, they've been engaging online with their host partners and have come to understand each other on a personal level by sharing their hobbies, favorite music, classes and family life. Both the German and American students are looking forward to the upcoming trip to Germany.

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