Tentative German trip plans in process

The summer of 2014 brings a trip to Germany for CFHS students.

If all goes as planned, the German trip will bring students culture, confidence and above all, a learning experience that they just can’t receive in class.

“This German trip will give you a personal connection. You aren’t just hearing or seeing things. It’s real life. Sure you can learn things in a classroom, but when you see it right in front of you, it gives everything a whole new meaning,” adviser for this German trip Georgia Haskell said.

Education will be a huge part of this trip, although it’ll be taught in way that you just can’t forget.

“I want to teach students that there is a world out there where ordinary people speak German every day and live the German cultural experience every day. That it is one thing to study about culture, history, social science, art and really any subject theoretically and a whole other to be in the midst of it — to touch a historical monument, to walk a street that the old Romans used, to be inside a concentration camp and feel what people must have gone through. I want to teach the students to experience all these things that are taught at school but in real life,” German teacher Gunda Brost said.

Trip planners say that not only will this give students a learning experience they can’t forget, but it’ll also give them amazing memories.

“Going to Italy will be a priceless memory. I don’t really want to be tied down. I want travel and experience things you can’t experience in Iowa. I also really want to explore the German language and culture in a whole new way,” a sophomore who’s going, Drew Stensland, said.

Though to every exciting trip, there are challenges.

“When someone comes with the wrong expectation, it can be a challenge. For instance, it is not a shopping trip or a trip for relaxation. Sometimes it can be frustrating to be one of the ‘American tourists,’ and have people assume you want to speak English, when the typical German student wants to speak German as much as possible, so you must prevail in creating your own experience. This a reason that a possible stay with German families can fill in gaps of experiences that the tour part may have left. Sleep deprivation because of the intense traveling is definitely a challenge. I’d advise anyone considering the trip to realize that the purpose is not to party with your friends, and that you will be much too tired to do so. This opportunity is provided to you as a way to learn beyond the classroom setting, so you should not have misconceptions about that,” Brost said.

A possible stay with a German family will not only help with filling the experience gaps, but also create connections in Germany.

“One of my best friends from German High School is right now an English teacher in Cologne, and together we are working on setting up opportunities for any of my students coming to Germany to be able to spend a few days with German host families in Cologne. This has the potential of really touching students’ lives as they may be able to make lasting contacts with Germans, which, eventually, could lead to increased opportunities for career and personal enrichment. Actually living with a family has been proven to be the best way to learn a language via total immersion as quickly as possible, as my language teaching colleagues will be able to verify,” Brost said.

As Brost said, there are many opportunities to this trip that will help craft career choices and personal choices in students’ lives. “My favorite part is when teachers return and talk to me about their students’ growth. A really shy student could go to Germany rarely speaking to anybody and return a totally different person. It really pushes kids out of their comfort zones, and a lot of them come back to their teachers and tell them ‘thank you’ for all the opportunities they now have,” Haskell said.

And pushing students out of their comfort zone it will certainly do.

“The traveling is intense. It is not simply a joyride that you can coast through. You should be physically and mentally prepared for a challenge because you will be thrown into a vast array of immeasurable new experiences beyond anything you’ve most likely ever experienced.

“Specifically, on a typical day, you may wake up after having slept in a gorgeous family-run little inn in a Swiss Alp town with a homemade breakfast, walk through the cobble streets in a historical Medieval town at noon, eat Spaghetti ice cream in a German ice cafe in the afternoon and take an extended tour of a museum in the evening. In other words, you’ll be continuously on the go, and it is often not until you return home and/or have some time to relax that you can truly take in all what you have learned,” Brost said.

To go on this German trip, students will need to talk to Brost in the language department of the high school. She highly recommends the trip not only because it create opportunities and wonderful experiences, but but also because it opens different viewpoints and perspectives.

“You learn most about your own culture and history by exchanging experiences with those who have another perspective. As you learn about another’s perspective on an idea, such as a historical event like World War II, your own perspective changes by taking into consideration the fact that other people’s experiences are different from our own, yet equally valuable,” Brost said.

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