Spending three weeks in Harford County might have been a new experience for a group of students from Hildesheim, Germany, but for one of their chaperons it was a homecoming.
While the students gained first-hand impressions of American family and school life, Sandra Seilerenjoyed getting reacquainted with former colleagues and students.
The former Sandra Siegert, who taught Spanish and lower-level German for four years at John Carroll School, was used to escorting American students to Germany, but this year she experienced the program from the other side of the Atlantic when she, along with her husband, Matthias Seiler, accompanied the German students on their visit to the United States.
Seiler, coordinator for the exchange program in Germany, and Siegert met in 1987 when he brought a group of students to John Carroll School. They saw each other again the following year, when she accompanied students to Germany.
During those first two meetings they were just friends and colleagues, they said. But the third time around, when Seiler, who teaches English, returned to Bel Airwith another group of students their friendship turned into romance -- much to the delight of John Carroll's former principal, Donald Sudbrink.
"Don always said we should go out together," said Siegert. They continued dating during his three-week stay, then they visited each other without the students, and in between ran up huge cross-Atlantic phone bills. They married last June, a week after Siegert returned from another exchange tour to Germany.
They live in a village outside Hildesheim and are expecting their first child this fall.
Siegert said witnessing the exchange program from the German point of view was an interesting experience.
"Usually I was the one welcoming the German students to John Carroll, but this time I was the guest," she said. Often, she said, she had to remind herself that she wasn't a teacher at John Carroll anymore, just a visitor. But she enjoyedseeing all her friends and some of her former students again.
"I love living in Germany," said Siegert, "but I do miss my family and friends."