German students welcomed for stay
Twenty-three students from Greifswald, Germany, three guest teachers and their Park Rapids hosts piled on hay wagons Sunday afternoon. Anna Gliem said she was over being a little jet-lagged from Friday's flight across the Atlantic. A student of E...
Twenty-three students from Greifswald, Germany, three guest teachers and their Park Rapids hosts piled on hay wagons Sunday afternoon.
Anna Gliem said she was over being a little jet-lagged from Friday's flight across the Atlantic. A student of English since the third grade, she answered questions effortlessly.
In third grade, she said, they learn how to count and other basics of the language. It isn't until fifth grade that they study English more seriously.
The Park Rapids Rotary Club hosted the visitors from Germany at Tim and Cathy Pearson's farm near Park Rapids. After the hayride, the students roasted marshmallows on sticks over a fire and made s'mores.
Linda Uscola suggested the American treat, explaining people in Germany seem to have no concept of what a marshmallow is.
Uscola, who teaches German at Park Rapids Area High School, has organized and led trips to Germany for years, but decided in the late 1990s to find a partner school.
At about the same time, Volker Grap, decided he wanted to find a partner school in Minnesota. Both teachers turned to St. Olaf College for help and they found each other and started e-mailing almost right away.
Volker already had northern Minnesota connections. In 1990-91, he taught German studies at the Concordia Language Village, Waldsee, near Bemidji.
And, in fact, he met his wife there. "She was my boss," he grins. "She was from the east (the former East Germany). I was from the West. We became a model for reunification (of the country) without the problems."
The couple now has two children. He teaches English and sport (physical education). She is a self-employed teacher, teaching English to adults who come to the University of Greifswald's International Max Planck Research School.
They have moved to Greifswald since Uscola first visited Volker's classroom in 2001. He was teaching at Altentreptow at the time and had planned to bring his students to Park Rapids in 2002, but "9-11 happened" and their parents weren't willing to let them come, he said.
Park Rapids students returned to his classrooms in 2003 and 2005 and this year, the plans to come to the US worked out.
Volker said his students do not have to do fundraising like Park Rapids students do to pay for their trip. "Their parents and grandparents pay," he said. Their students don't do fundraising at all for the trip or for anything, he said.
Volker also said a couple of his students on this trip have been in the US before.
Monday morning, Area High School principal Al Judson welcomed the students, who then went to classes with their host students. They had planned to watch a cross country meet at Headwaters but it was rained out.
Since there were parent-teacher conferences at the school, there was a potluck for the students at the commons with dishes labeled in English.
Tuesday the students were going to be speaking in classes. After school, they were scheduled to meet at Lamb-Weston/RDO Frozen where they were going to get a video tour of the plant and a taste of the all-American french fries made there. Afterward, members of the All-Veterans Memorial Committee were scheduled to give a tour at the memorial park before students headed into the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber office for a welcome from Katie Magozzi.
With no school in Park Rapids Wednesday, Uscola arranged for a trip to Itasca State Park, lunch at the Native Harvest Café with wild rice and other delicacies on the menu, a tour of the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen and grand finale at the Park Rapids-Crookston football game in Crookston.
From Park Rapids, Volker said the students will go to the Black Hills and see Mount Rushmore. Then they will head back to the Twin Cities to see the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota History Center and, of course, the Mall of America before heading home Oct. 28.