(photo by Allie Hickenbotham)

photo by Allie Hickenbotham

Amerikaner gehen nach deutschland

September 6, 2016

After a seven-hour plane ride, 20 jet lagged, nervous and excited KHS students were greeted by the sound of music and cheering from their 20 German exchange partners in Hamburg, Germany June 2. These students were about to begin a month-long journey, known as the German American Partnership Program (GAPP).

“I thought about the lifetime friendship [my partner and I] were going to have, and all the great memories we were about to make,” James Fuszner, senior, said.

Fuszner lived with Georg Olowson for three weeks, and said he felt welcomed and comfortable with his host family. He said he was never bored at the house because he was always doing something, whether it be playing video games or kicking a soccer ball.

“There were a lot of kids in my family, so there was never a quiet moment in the house,” Fuszner said.

The GAPP students went on bus, walking and boat tours around Hamburg. Fuszner said he enjoyed the Hamburg city tour the second day in Germany the most.

“We were immediately exposed to how [the Germans] live and how their city works,” Fuszner said. “Seeing the culture right away was really cool. [The Germans] did stuff until 10 p.m. because the sun didn’t set until then.”

Celia Rose, senior, lived with Lae Debus and said as time progressed she became more comfortable with her family and her German speaking ability. Both Rose and Debus have had older siblings that participated in GAPP in previous years.

“My host family was really similar to how my family is at home because of how fun they were and [how] they joked around,” Rose said. “It almost seemed like they were a normal American family, except they were German.”

One weekend, Rose and her host family went to Sylt, an island in northern Germany. Rose said she enjoyed her time in Sylt because she and her host family got closer and made more memories on the trip. She said she walked along the beach and got to pick up jelly fish and crabs with her hands which was entertaining.

“[On the beach], I went on a walk with just the mom and she asked me what America was like and what I wanted to do in the future,” Rose said. “It felt like I was talking to my real mom.”

The morning of June 24, all the KHS students said their goodbyes to their partners and hopped on a bus to drive to another city. From June 24-28, students traveled to Dresden, Nuremberg, Salzburg and Munich. Fuszner and Rose said Salzburg was their favorite city.

“I love mountains and scenery and I feel like [Salzburg] had the most of it,” Rose said. “It was really cool to see all the places where The Sound of Music was [filmed], and the salt mine tour was really fun.”

Larry Anderson, KHS German teacher, has been participating in GAPP for eight years. Anderson said he thought the trip this year was a success, and believed the students enjoyed it as much as he did. This year is the 30th anniversary of GAPP.

“The most exciting thing is when [the students] get excited about things they learn or experience for the first time,” Anderson said.

Both Rose and Fuszner miss Germany because of the authentic food, seeing their new friends, and having something to do every day. They both recommend GAPP to anyone in German.

“It’s scary at first, and you might think your German is not good enough, but every day it gets better and you get more comfortable,” Fuszner said. “It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

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