Delaware Academy-Wittekind Exchange

Delaware Academy-Wittekind Exchange
Posted on 12/04/2018
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Delaware Academy-Wittekind Exchange

On the 14th of November, thirteen Delaware Academy students departed from JFK Airport to Berlin, Germany for the DA-Wittekind Exchange. Before experiencing a typical German small town and school however, we spent two days in Berlin. Our first day was action-packed, visiting the Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden Strasse, and the Reichstag building. For dinner we ate at “Max und Moritz,” a classic German restaurant. Early Saturday morning we had a tour of the Reichstag, the German Parliament building. It was an interesting look into how the political system of Germany works. Then after a delicious Döner for lunch, we took a self-guided tour of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The Berlin Wall and occupation of the city is a big part of history in Germany, so the museum along with our subsequent visit to the East Side Gallery was pretty intriguing. Our last event in Berlin was a Blue Man Group show later that night. It was a great way to end our visit to a fantastic city. Saturday morning after a bit of shopping at Alexa Shopping Mall we took a train to Lübbecke to meet our host families. We arrived at around 6 p.m. and almost immediately after we went to a TuS N-Lübbecke handball game. The team plays in the second division of handball in Germany, so it was really cool to see a professional game of a sport that isn’t prevalent in America.

Following the school shadowing, the entire group went to watch a handball game between the local handball team TuS N-Lübbecke and the opposing team, the HC Rhein Vikings, and won.

Monday was the first day in school for us. We had an official welcome to the Wittekind Gymnasium from their Superintendent, Dr Hagemeier. Following the welcome, we were allowed to shadow our partners around the school and through their different classes. Many of us went to our partners’ English classes, and were shocked at the level of comprehension and ability of the German students to speak and understand English. The following day the Delaware Academy students presented to the German students about multiple American and Delhi topics, such as the town of Delhi, Delaware Academy itself, the 2nd Amendment, The Civil War, and more. After a day of presenting, we went on a guided tour around the town of Lübbecke, which was very interesting. The town of Lübbecke has an interesting history, with aspects apparent throughout the entire town dating back hundreds of years, such as being the Capital of the British occupation of their sector of Germany, or a church that is hundreds of years old with medieval bodies buried right below the entrance. Following the tour we, along with our German partners, went to the bowling alley for a few games of bowling. On Thursday we returned to Wittekind as we finished presenting to a couple more classes. After our presentations were finished, we went to the sport hall to play handball. The TuS N-Lübbecke handball coach came to help us learn the basics of handball. He set up basic, yet skill requiring drills to help us become acquainted with the many rules and motions of handball. After the drills, we split into two teams and played a very competitive game of handball, which was exciting and entertaining. Afterwards, we participated in a normal German gym class, where we played soccer and basketball for a couple of hours. We had an amazing time with our German partners and fellow American students. The days we spent in school were very educational and fun.

On Wednesday we made the long trip to Köln.  While we were there, we went to the Ludwig Museum.  The Ludwig Museum is a modern art museum with things like Pop Art, Abstract and Surrealist art, and one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe.  It features artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.  After the museum we went next door to the Kölner Dom, which is a Gothic cathedral.  The Kölner Dom took over 500 years to complete and is 516 feet tall. We walked the 533 steps all the way to the top; it was a tiring climb but the views from the top made it worthwhile. Then we had a few hours of free time after that, and we will always remember the great time we had in Köln.

Friday, we traveled to Hameln. The city is the birthplace of the story of The Pied Piper, so fittingly we had a tour of Hameln guided by ¨The Pied Piper.¨ He shared the story of The Pied Piper with us and pointed out notable buildings and structures throughout the city, while also playing some tunes on his ¨pipe¨ for us. Following the tour and the many laughs that the ¨Pied Piper¨ caused, we drove to Bückeburg Castle for a great German breakfast, and a walk around the property. We also paid a visit to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial. The memorial was almost as impressive as the amazing views overlooking the valley. Friday evening the German families and teachers organized a dinner party to celebrate our time together and to say goodbye. Three Delaware Academy seniors gave speeches in German regarding our new experiences and memories, as well as our appreciation and thankfulness for the opportunities this exchange has provided us.

By 4:30 on Saturday morning, all of the students were up and finishing packing their suitcases, preparing to say goodbye to their families. After many hugs and a few tears all fifteen of us were aboard the train headed to Dusseldorf Airport, and waving goodbye to our new friends. On behalf of all German students involved, we could not be more thankful for having been a part of this exchange. The experiences and relationships that resulted from this program are unforgettable and in most instances, once in a lifetime opportunities.

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