Exchange program connects
School board leaders in Prince Edward County honored participants of a student-exchange program between students at Prince Edward County High School and a school in Germany.
Exchange students from Germany met members of the school board during the board’s Oct. 4 meeting and coordinators discussed activities students have undertaken during the exchange.
This is the Prince Edward County’s 12th year working with the school in Germany.
The program is an exchange between students at Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) and students of St. Angela’s School, located in Königstein, Germany, Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson said during the meeting.
Exchange Program Coordinator Megan Cunningham said during the meeting that it had been her seventh year involved with the program. She said she and St. Angela’s Chaperone Wolfgang Heisl have partnered to host students from each school to learn and become immersed in one another’s culture.
She said about 10 students of the all-girl school are hosted by families and students in Prince Edward County each year, noting that nine students attended this fall.
Cunningham said each St. Angela’s student spends two weeks with a host family in addition to taking trips to various sites around Virginia, which she said have
been funded by the school board.
“We’ve had a luncheon with the administration. We’ve had a trip to Monticello. We went to Moton Museum (on) Monday and we went to Colonial Williamsburg Saturday,” Cunningham said.
German students were also able to shadow Prince Edward County High School students and attend classes.
“The students have partnered with their host families and they have followed them throughout the day, shadowing classes,” Cunningham said, noting that the German students also got to shadow a German class at Longwood University and have a potluck dinner with professors from Hampden-Sydney College and met with members of the College’s German Club.
Cunningham, following the meeting, said that the German students have enjoyed shopping and eating out during the trip. She said the students also follow and are aware of American politics.
Some differences she noted between German and American culture include that sales tax are already calculated into prices for products in Germany, and that restaurants in Germany or in most of Europe do not offer free refills.
Noting that the students returned to Germany Oct. 6 and that many had shed tears, Cunningham said many of the German students and PECPS students have been keeping in contact through email.
“I think it’s a wonderful program that benefits our students and the German students,” Cunningham said. “They learn about another culture, about the life of an average teenage in another country, and make a friend.”
Cunningham noted that Prince Edward students will have the chance to become immersed in German culture through a trip Cunningham will organize in June.
Heisl said during the school board meeting that the students have given presentations about Germany at different classes they had attended.
“I’m very grateful that we have been able to keep that exchange program going,” Heisl said. Heisl gave Johnson a box of German specialty chocolate during the meeting.
“Thank you all very much for coming and sharing with us,” Johnson said.
Johnson asked students their thoughts on their experiences, and board members gave applause for students and leaders before they left.