Foreign exchange program brings German students to Manatee County schools

Published: November 4, 2013 



MANATEE — German students on their fall break from school have chosen to attend classes at Southeast High School, and while going to school during fall recess may not seem like a vacation, for 22 visiting students from Gelsenkirchen, Germany, it has been a real break.

German students study 12 subjects a week, speak at least three languages, including their native tongue and mandatory English classes, and do more homework from one class than most Southeast students receive during a school day.

Still, Southeast High School students are looking forward to spending their summer breaks in their German counterparts’ classes.It’s all part of an exchange program started by a president most participants are too young to remember.

President Ronald Reagan, famous for his speech at the Berlin Wall, began the German American Partnership Program to develop a relationship between young Americans and Germans. It is a government nonprofit funded by the Department of State. Participating students pay for flights and visa fees at a reduced price with no agency fees.

Visiting students stay with a host family. Students submit applications to determine compatibility through questions such as interest in sports, if they have any siblings or pets and music tastes.

Southeast High teacher Patty Haeussler is the American coordinator for the program. Connie Klasener from the Max-Planck Gymnasium, a school for gifted students, is Haeussler’s German

counterpart.Germany students are in their final week of the three-week foreign exchange program.Southeast High School students will spend three weeks in Germany in June.Klasener said the visits are based on the school calendars. “They come from Germany during their fall break,” Klasener said. “Americans have to go on their summer break. When they do, school in Germany has not ended yet.”



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