The students in Europe are lucky because they have many more opportunities to travel to foreign countries than our students. In addition if the schools have on-the-ball, proactive teachers who can find European Union (EU) money to fund the exchanges, the trips are relatively inexpensive. In December, 20 of our students and 2 teachers traveled to The Netherlands for a week. Last week, 20 students from The Netherlands and their teacher/advisers came here. The purpose of the exchange was to share cultures. The common languages were English and German which were 2nd and 3rd languages for all 40 students. Each school had to prepare activities introducing things like native foods, dances, traditional games, and holidays. The students lived in their "partner" students houses, attend school. and did some local sightseeing. One example of the cultural differences between the two countries is that when our students went to The Netherlands, they rode bikes to school with their partners. Likewise, the students from the Netherlands rode in the service buses with our students.
I joined the group for their last activity together last Friday night. After the presentations and planned activities, the kids plugged their i-pods into the stereo system and started dancing. The first song up, the ice breaker if you will, was the Harlem Shake. Two countries became one and, for the rest of the evening, the kids had a blast dancing together. While watching them dance I was transported back to my high school days. Even back then, I was itching to see the world, to meet new people, the explore new cultures. I would have loved an opportunity like these students had.
|Students from the Netherlands and Turkey receive their certificates of participation in this cultural exchange.|