Thousands of miles from home, 14 German students are spending much of the month of October in the Quad Cities, thanks to a program called the German-American Partnership Program (GAPP) exchange.
Since 2004, the German department at Rock Island High School has partnered with the city of Rottenburg, Germany in a GAPP exchange. The primary goal of GAPP is to integrate students into everyday life with host families and into the classroom activities of host schools to foster an understanding of both German and American cultures.
Every two years, the participating American students travel to the partner city in Germany for a three-week stay in June with a host family. Later that year, in October, participating German students travel to the U.S. for a three-week stay with their American partners. The partner city, called Rottenburg am Neckar, is located in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg about 30 miles to the south of Stuttgart. It has a population of around 40,000 people, and is situated along the picturesque Neckar river valley. It is also a seat of a catholic bishop for the Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese.
Students from Rock Island High School traveled to Germany June 5-27, 2018 after school went on summer break. The students lived with host families and visited the partner school, St. Meinrad Gymnasium, a private college-preparatory school that serves students from Rottenburg and the surrounding area. They enjoyed field trips to the cities of Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, and nearby Tübingen. The group also spent a day around the area of Lake Constance with their German hosts. Highlights of the trip include touring the German capitol building, exploring the history of the Berlin wall, visiting the Dachau concentration camp memorial site, hiking up to Hohenzollern castle, making their own chocolate bars at the Ritter Sport factory, steering canoes down the Neckar river, and enjoying the town's summer festival.
Last week, the German students arrived to stay with host families in Rock Island. Their plans include touring the area and enjoying the fall season in the midwest. The students will visit historical sites and museums while taking local food and customs. They will also take group field trips to Deere and Company, Amana Colony/Kalona Iowa, and Springfield Illinois.
Rock Island High School Teacher Nick Eli, said that this program is one of his favorite things about teaching German. "Our students get to live the language while they are in Germany, and then the German students get to live our language while they are here in the Quad Cities. It's a great way for them to learn about the world."
Rocky and German students at Rock Island High School