Sharing the teen experience

They may speak a completely different language, but other than that, they are no different than typical American students.

Students from Gymnasium Philippinum in Marburg, Germany, have been attending Crescenta Valley High School as part of an exchange program. They can be found chatting animatedly in mixed German and English with C.V. kids on the La Crescenta campus. Occasionally, there’s a pause as a student stops to think of the appropriate English word; soon, another student offers it to them, filling the gap in the conversation. All in all, the 14 11th graders from Gymnasium Philippinum have blended quickly into the sea of students at Crescenta Valley High, where they have experienced America for the past week.

“This is the fourth time that students of Gymnasium Philippinum are attending Crescenta Valley High in the exchange student program,” said program coordinator Dr. Ernst Engelbert.

The German students went to classes with their host students, with whom they have been living during their brief weeks in America. This way, the Germans are able to absorb the classic American culture that C.V. has to offer them, including football games and chili dogs.

On Friday morning, Sept. 26, the exchange students showed off their talents and presented the culture of their homeland in an assembly at Crescenta Valley High. Hundreds of C.V. students attended the assembly, as well as the exchange students’ host families.

The German students exhibited a variety of talents for the Americans. The audience laughed, cheered and listened attentively as each exchange student introduced himself and performed musical pieces, some well-known and others unfamiliar. Students demonstrated both hip-hop and German folk dances, played in a piano trio, and sang German folk songs for the crowd. One group of students danced to a popular song among American teens called “Umbrella,” extracting many cheers and hoots from the crowd.

A kindergarten class from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in Glendale also attended the assembly. Benjamin Franklin offers German-English dual language immersion classes, sponsored by the German-American Partnership Program (GAPP), the same one that allows the German exchange students to visit La Crescenta.

This was not the Germans’ only assignment at CV, however. According to Engelbert, the exchange students also made group presentations to the classrooms that they attended, regarding topics such as the European Union, German school systems, and customs in Germany.

“We have all been learning English since the fifth grade in Germany,” said Fabian Schwamb, one of the exchange students. Consequently, the German students seemed fairly fluent in English and comfortable speaking the language, among many others that they learned at their school.

Before returning to Germany in mid-October, the exchange students will go on an eight-day tour of the Southwest, visiting locations such as Death Valley, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon.

“We’ve already visited several nearby attractions, such as SeaWorld, the Getty Museum and Hollywood,” said Sina Hettler, another exchange student.

“This program is great for the kids at C.V.,” said Kathy Markarian, Crescenta Valley High’s sole German teacher. “It’s not too often that students here get the opportunity to find out how it feels to be a teenager in Germany.”

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