By Jeffrey Dong ’16 and Kieran Bissessar ’16
German and U.S. flags greeted German exchange students as they entered Midwood for their first time on April 16.
“I’ve been communicating with my German exchange student through Facebook, Skype, and/or Snapchat,” said Abe Rais ’16, a Midwood student in the exchange program.
Midwood students have been excited to meet their exchange student partners ever since they first got in contact with them online. Many of the students participating have already gotten to know their exchange student well before they even meet face to face with the assistance of social media and the internet.
“Exchange programs, like the Midwood Berlin Exchange, allow students to really experience life in a foreign country–to see how ordinary people live their lives. The students really bond with one another. Also, it allows students too stretch themselves–to experience things that they might initially be fearful of.” Said Mr. Eugene Resnick, a history teacher.
The point of the exchange student program is for the students to interact with other students who have a different cultural background and make lifelong friends with them. Also, each student gets to be the host of an exchange student at their house. This is a key aspect of the program as both students can compare and contrast their lives as well as meet the host’s family.
“I was very disappointed when I found out we weren’t able to go to Germany,” said Rais.
Typically, each student has a turn to be a host and guest. However, due to the terror attacks going on in France during January, the Department of Education cancelled the trip. Many Midwood students participating in the exchange program like Rais were deeply saddened by this.
“I enjoyed following Abe Rais to his classes and being able to recognize the similarities and differences between school here and school back at home,” said Lennard Schnitker ’16, a German exchange student.
During the visit, the German students will be following their partner to classes and going to their houses at the end of the day. Also, the German students will be going on trips to places like the Statue of Liberty, Chrysler Building, Top of the Rock, and The Botanical Gardens. However, Midwood students will only be able to go on two to three of these trips with their German partners.
On April 19, Midwood students will have their only free day with their exchange students so they can show them more about their cultures like food, events, and activities. This allows the students to distinguish the differences and similarities plus appreciate each other’s culture.
“In Germany, university is free,” said Schnitker. “In my school, there are about 25 students in one class and about 500-600 students altogether.”
Unlike here, Germany tuition free universities to all students including foreign students. On the other hand, Midwood is larger than most schools, with nearly 4,000 students attending
In Germany and Europe, almost everywhere is connected by trains. However, in the U.S. train routes don’t connect to every region. Also, most trains in Germany are faster than the ones in the U.S.
“One difference between Germany and here are the trains,” said Schnitker.
On April 25, the German exchange students will leave New York and go back to their country. This is a once in a lifetime experience as many people don’t often visit another country and plan to live with someone plus their family that they never met face to face.
“I would definitely participate in this exchange program again,” said Rais. “I love spending time and showing my culture to another student from a different country and origin.”