Brent Mackey, German teacher, has continued the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) at Webster since 2006. This year, the exchange school is from Stuttgart, the capital city of Baden-Wurtemburg, a state in southwest Germany.
The GAPP is a three-week exchange partnership between a school in the United States and a school in Germany.
“There are up to 20 students from each school that participate, and we pair them each with a partner from the school in Germany and with our school, and essentially the German students will come and stay with our students and their families for about two and a half to three weeks, and basically they just try to live life as if they were an American teenager,” Mackey said about the program.
The German students visited New York City and Chicago and spent most of their time in St. Louis. Delal Yoleri, a student from Stuttgart, found the Halloween parties she went to most memorable.
“[I] went to parties, eat many new things that I never eat before, meet many new people, [and went] to school,” Yoleri said about her time here. She enjoyed and was surprised to see the ways people here differed from how she thought they would before her exchange.
“I thought that Americans [were] unfriendly, but they are really friendly. Like if you come into a shop they ask you, ‘How are you?’ ‘How’s it going?’ and stuff like this,” Yoleri said.
Mackey has also learned some things from the GAPP exchange.
“This is the first time with an exchange out near Stuttgart, which is a different area of Germany from our last exchange which was in the Dortmund area, more northern Germany. I’m just learning a little bit about the differences in the culture between mid- to northern-Germany and southern Germany,” Mackey said.
Yoleri thought the most fun part about being in America was “to see how the people really are like not just have these [stereotypes]; to see how different the people here are.”
The other half of the exchange will occur in May and June after school gets out. The same select Webster students will be hosted by the German students.
“When we go, we return the exchange. We go back and live with them for three weeks and our students do the same thing. [The Webster students] will go to their schools. They’ll participate in some of [the Germans’] classes, they will present on American culture in Germany and try to live the life of a German high schooler,” Mackey said.
Because this year’s exchange is in a different city in Germany, the students will be able to take advantage of some new opportunities.
“I like showing the students Germany because I love Germany. We go sledding in the Alps; we spend a couple days in Munich. This year we’re going to take a day trip Paris, which I’m pretty excited about. Mostly I just like showing the students Germany in general.” Mackey said about what he’s looking forward to.
Junior Hope Johnson is also excited to expand her knowledge of Germany.
“I am looking forward to immersing myself into the culture of German students because I have been to Germany before, but it is a completely different learning experience when you are actually living with a German family for 3 weeks,” Johnson said.
“I am so thankful for the friendships I have made. I have so many great memories from the past few weeks, and I have gotten friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime,” Johnson said.
See also: ECHO’s Voices of Webster Nov. 15, 2017
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