The Edmond Sun

September 16, 2013

German students visit Edmond counterparts

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Twenty German students and their teachers became Honorary Oklahoma Citizens as Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, presented each of them with a certificate signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

The students landed in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago and arrived in Edmond a week ago. They completed their first week of school in Oklahoma Friday as part of a three-week immersion in the language and culture of Oklahoma as part of the German-American Partnership Program.

The group includes eight boys and 12 girls, all fluent in their first foreign language, English, and most also can speak French or Spanish.

They come from a school of only 650 students, said one of their faculty advisers, Michael Fink.

“The two schools are totally different,” Fink said. “In the United States each teacher has his or her own room, but in Germany each class has its own room. Between classes you see the teachers hurrying from room to room. Each grade level also has its own building.”

Fink said that some of the classes are taught bilingually including math and social studies.

All of the students are between 16 and 17 years of age.

“We are more than 2,000 miles from home,” said 16-year-old Alexandra Rank, “and we have seen movies about America and the people who live here.”

She added it is not the same as being here though.

“On the first day we arrived in the United States and landed in Washington, D.C., we decided this is the place to be,” Alexandra said.

“This is the end of our first week of school and the students and teachers have been fantastic,” said Andreas Boehm. “Tonight we will be traveling to the Dallas-Fort Worth area with our hosts visiting some museums and sites there. There are so many things to see and do and we are excited about being a part of all of it.”  

The students have their bucket lists of things they want to do while in Edmond.

For both of them it includes a visit to a Walmart Super Center.

“We have nothing like this in Germany,” Alexandra said. “Some of the students visited there in the evening and told stories of all of the things they found in there.”

The two also have plans to see Edmond’s new aquatic center currently being built, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and a baseball game.

“We hear Santa Fe and North will be playing a ball game on the field against each other,” Alexandra said. “I have never seen that and I am so excited about seeing it.”

Edmond North’s German teacher Monika Gerstnlauer-Beiler said this is the eighth time she has been at a school that hosted German students and the third time North has been a host school.

“Next summer I will be taking Edmond students and traveling abroad as they live in German homes and attend German schools,” Gerstnlauer-Beiler said.

The program is funded by the U.S. and German governments.

Before traveling to Oklahoma the students prepared presentations about their Bavarian culture and history to share with their new Edmond classmates.

The German students attend high school at Willibald-Gymnasium in Eichstaett located in southern Germany and were accompanied by their teachers Michael Fink and Patricia Ehgaertner.