German Foreign Exchange
GERMAN FOREIGN EXCHANGE TRIP
Following on from Eugenie Faure’s and Moniece Mulling’s initial visit to Philipp Melanchthon Gymnasium (PMG) in Meine, Germany back in August 2016, we have a lot of news to share about the success of both the PMG visit to Bolingbroke Academy in February and the return trip in April.
In February, 19 German students from PMG arrived to spend a week with pupils from Bolingbroke Academy. The aim of the trip was to immerse pupils from both nations in a different culture, practice a different language and experience a school day alongside their English host. This was then to feed into a joint project, “Our School: in the urban city vs. in the countryside”.
What started with some very awkward smiles and handshakes in the Commons, soon became the foundation of blossoming friendships. German pupils got the chance to take in some of London’s sights with Ms Sherman, Ms Joseph, along with Frau Christmann and Frau Griesing. We visited the tower of London, Greenwich and Hampton Court Palace.
Each day, the German students accompanied their English host to every lesson, providing an excellent insight for both groups of students to share how they learn and discuss the topics covered and also for pupils learning German, who were able to put some of their language skills into practice in a purposeful context.
The week raised many questions from pupils about the differing school systems; mainly that German pupils were really surprised by the rigour of the Bolingbroke Academy school day, as well as the practice of detentions, as this is something they do not have in their school. Equally, the sheer business of being in such a vibrant capital city was also incredibly contrasting for the German pupils.“It is important because you know your country, but your exchange student doesn’t, so you can show them and vice-versa” Jeanne Le Bec (Year 7).
The week finished with this lovely moment on the Bolingbroke steps, quickly followed by many tears when the pupils had to say goodbye.
The second part of the trip started on 30 March....a few minor hitches with passports and the bus not turning up but this did not curb the enthusiasm of this group – even at 4am - and we made it to Germany full of anticipation and excitement!
Pupils were welcomed to the school by their host partners, the teachers and Headmaster. After various discussions about the school rules and what to expect, pupils were given their handbooks and were quickly whizzing off with their host families.
The following day, the school was buzzing with pupils catching up on their first experiences in German families, new words they had picked up and a general zest for being in a totally different place. “I think it is VERY important for younger people to travel abroad in an exchange or a holiday as it brings a whole new world into play. You can learn the similarities and differences of your country and theirs” Charlie Colson (Year 10).
Pupils took part in a variety of activities with their host families as well as group visits to Braunschweig and Berlin. Feedback from pupils was centred on the cultural differences of being somewhere so removed from city life and the different activities that were available to them. Quite a few also enjoyed being in a school where they could wear their own clothes as noted by one pupil; “Working on the project with my partners helped to identify all the differences between PMG and Bolingbroke, especially through the rules, its history and dress code” Ariana Farmanfarmaian (Year 11).
Project work was addressed on a daily basis; pupils worked in groups with their partners building on key themes which had been identified in the first visit. Once completed the work then culminated in all pupils presenting to an audience of pupils and parents, with Bolingbroke pupils speaking in German and vice versa. The press were even there to capture the outcomes. Pupils were exceptionally brave and delivered excellent presentations in German.
The trip was full of developmental opportunities for our pupils. We were delighted to see some of them grow in character and improve their language skills over the week of the trip. For many pupils, the farewell was an emotional one after such a fun filled week with new friends. As Indra Traore (Year 10) summed up; “I feel that through this experience I have improved my German as well as my confidence. I have also learned to be open to different experiences and people”.
We would like to give a special mention to UK-German Connection, who have kindly issued us with an Instant Impact grant, which has enabled us to support pupil participation on the exchange programme.
Our thanks go to:
Mrs Mikayo Langhofer for taking the pupils on further sightseeing expeditions after school;
The Oddono family for their kindness and generosity in supplying the Germans with ice-cream;
The Le Bec and Faure families for welcoming all of the German students staying in the hostel and the teachers for a Raclette evening;
Mrs Weston and Mrs Birkett for accompanying the staff, 17 pupils and their suitcases to Clapham Junction when our bus to the airport failed to show up!
All of the families involved who drove pupils around, dropped them off in the early hours of the morning, and were so flexible in hosting, providing meals and general support in making the exchange a success!
Ms Joseph for giving up a week of her Easter holidays and her general organisation and support with the exchange programme in all capacities.
And of course, the pupils – for being wonderful ambassadors for the school and being so open minded with their new surroundings.