German exchange students to visit AHS

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Students will house the German visitors, as well as perform with them in choir.

Continuing a popular tradition, the hallways at AHS will soon be filled with faces of German choral exchange students. The students from the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Gymnasium (DBG) will arrive on Oct. 13 and be greeted by their host families students at AHS. Most of the host families will consist of choral students.

“I’m excited to visit New York [after my stay in Virginia], meet my host family and see what life is like in America,” DBG sophomore Leon Ruddat said.

In addition to rehearsing for a concert with the AHS students, the DBG students will be visiting several tourist attractions such as the Newseum, Mount Vernon, Tysons Corner, the Kennedy Center, Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon, the Capitol and a visit to an Amish community. The German students will also attend classes with their host AHS students on Oct. 19. Seniors will be able to go to a breakfast at IHOP and Tysons with the DBG students on Oct. 17 when the PSAT is administered.

“I’m always excited for when the German students come to classes because it’s cool to see them getting a glance at what American schools are like,” senior Joe Rolen said. “It’s a nice distraction from class.”

AHS has partook in the program with DBG for 12 years now. Before the program was at AHS, DBG students had a relationship with Langley HS and then Lake Braddock SS.

“The only thing that really changes each year are the music and the students,” chorus teacher Jessica Irish said. “We have traditions that we always do and songs we always sing together. The students that come change, but it’s great when the students are able to be in the program two times because they’re more involved in it and they are already good friends.”

Senior Victoria Beasley will be hosting German students for the second time. She will house two boys and one girl.

“I’ve talked to two of them, and I expect to get along pretty well with them,” Beasley said. “I think they’ll get along with my family as well. I’m really excited based on the conversations I’ve already had with them.”

DBG alumnus Franziska Haas stayed with senior Jenny Ha the last time she visited AHS. She was excited to visit D.C. and NYC when she came to America.

“I think the exchange program is the best way to get involved in the American life because you join your host families’ everyday life and get to know a lot about a student’s life in the U.S. which is very different than ours,” Haas said. “So when they visited us, it was very interesting to host the Americans and to introduce them to our culture and lifestyle.

AHS students that already know the DBG students from previous trips have kept in touch over the years.

“We’re all friends on Facebook, so we might comment on a status now and then, but we’re usually only in contact before, during and after the exchange,” Beasley said.

The DBG students often stay longer with their AHS families, but the coordinator for them scheduled their trip to be shorter than usual. The choral department had a scare when they found that a few DBG students had not been assigned a house yet.

“Our families were able to pull together to find them homes, and it was a really great job on their part,” Irish said. “This situation happened last year as well, so it wasn’t like it was something we hadn’t dealt with before.”

The DBG choral students visit AHS every other year, and AHS choral students travel to Germany to participate in the same program during the summer of the alternate year. Irish is most looking forward to seeing the DBG choral director and his family. She stayed with them when the choral department went to Germany last summer and became good friends with them.

A concert combining the AHS choral department and the DBG department will be held on Oct. 23. The AHS choral department is hiring a professional orchestra to accompany them.

“I’m really excited for the combined concert because we’ll be performing with about 160 people,” Irish said. “The fact that they’ve been working on the same piece across the Atlantic Ocean and are going to sing with us is amazing.”