Friendship and language exchanged with Germany


August 02, 1998|By Cynthia Kammann | Cynthia Kammann,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY OTHER year since 1992, Maureen Helinski, a German teacher at North County High School, has coordinated an exchange program between North County and a school in Germany.

North County students and some of their teachers spend nearly a month in Germany, living with the families of students there and touring the country, and the German students come to the United States to stay with North County families.

Helinski said the tour not only gives her students an opportunity to improve their language skills, but also allows them to build understanding and friendship with their German counterparts. The friendship part is clearly achieved as the students from both countries promise to keep in touch with their new friends, she said.

This year, North County's sister school is Rotteck Gymnasium in Freiburg. Ten North County students and two of their teachers spent more than three weeks in the Black Forest town in the southwestern corner of Germany, near the French and Swiss borders.

Accompanied by NCHS English teacher Hope Hutton and Helinski, students Teresina Barger, Marie Doering, Luke Dorsch, Bonnie Kasperek, Danielle Martlock, Karen See, Stefanie Moritz, Jeffery Warden, Shaun White and Becky Zavorka packed a lot into their days in Germany.

In addition to attending classes at Rotteck, they fit in tours of Hochkoenigsburg, a 12th-century castle in France; Basel, Switzerland; Lake Constance and a train trip to Heidelberg, the city with a university founded in 1386. They also took a boat trip in a nature preserve called Taubergiessen and viewed the Rhine River Falls, Europe's largest waterfall.

A highlight of the trip, the students said, was a visit to reunited Germany's capital, Berlin, with visits to an excavated basement that was Gestapo headquarters during World War II and the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtnis Kirche, a church that was destroyed in the Allied bombing of World War II and has been left as a memorial.

The students also saw a remaining section of the Berlin Wall; the Brandenburg Gate, which led from West to East during the Cold War; the Reichstag, seat of the German government; Alexanderplatz; the Kurfurstendam, Berlin's shopping district; and Schloss Sanssouci, the summer palace of Frederick the Great.

Back in Freiburg, the students were guests at a City Hall reception; toured a silver mine that operated from 1200 to 1958; hiked up the Feldberg, a five-hour uphill climb; and then slept in a youth hostel at the top and hiked back the next day.

The North County High families will reciprocate in the fall, when 24 students and two Rotteck teachers come to visit, attend classes at NCHS and experience some Bawlamer culture from Oct. 15 to Nov. 12. Crabs anyone?

Families of North County High students interested in being host to a German student for those four weeks can reach Helinski at 410-222-6970. The Web site for the NCHS German Exchange program is /campus/computing/60/ Deutschklassen.html.

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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