Three years ago we were lucky enough to have our first German Assistant, Frau Sitzer, a former pupil at the Christian von Mannlich school in Homburg in the Saarland. Through visits from the school as part of their trips to England, we established links and these developed into an Exchange.
In March this year, we welcomed our German Exchange partners to England and had a fantastic week with them, showing them our school and local area. Our pupils and parents were amazing in looking after our guests. Everyone got on superbly well and friendships started to form.
In June our pupils stood in the school car park, ready for the return leg to Germany. There was excitement and some apprehension. Following a long day of travelling by coach, ‘plane and train, we were met with a very warm welcome from our partners at Neunkirchen.
On our first full day, we went into the school, where the Head Teacher very bravely did a presentation in English. We then enjoyed a second breakfast together, before heading off in the heat to walk to some nearby caves. We all felt quite relieved by the drop in temperature when we got inside.
In the afternoon we visited a climbing park, where the highlight was a zip wire across a lake. Hendrik went across starfish-style, arms and legs out and Harvey chose an alternative pose as a ballerina!
On our second day, we visited the Roman town of Trier and went to an amphitheatre, which was amazing. In the evening Mr Denkinger ran a games night at school, where our pupils learnt how to play ‘Werwoelfe von Duesterwald.’
Heidelberg was our destination for the next day. We set off on the train on probably the hottest day of our stay. Having climbed up to a viewing point in the heat, we then took the funicular railway to go up to the castle on the opposite side of the river, where we had a guided tour.
On the Thursday we had the morning in school, following our partners’ timetables. The classrooms are very different to ours, no displays, no IT equipment, just revolving chalkboards.
In the afternoon we travelled by coach to an indoor fluorescent lit mini golf centre and armed with golf clubs, balls and the very important score sheets, the competition began!
On our last full day in Germany, we met in the school hall, ready, for us as staff, to do a presentation to two year groups about Noadswood School. The German teachers were very keen for our pupils to do the presentation and so Mrs Sullivan did some very hurried typing to put together a script. Having had no time to practise and armed with microphones, our pupils took to the stage. They embodied the spirit of Noadswood and made us incredibly proud.
Our last day was the German pupils’ last day of term. Emotions were running high as they received their school reports, finding out if they had passed the year and could therefore move up to the next, or whether they had to repeat the year. There was lots of relief, but also some tears.
Having spent the afternoon with families, we all met up at school in the evening for a farewell party. The school kitchen prepared a tasty regional dish and the parents also brought food. Mr Denkinger presented our pupils with certificates, recognising traits about them spotted during our stay. He then presented us all with t-shirts, with a group photo on the front. Following his speech, the Head Teacher opened up the yard for the pupils to play ‘One Bounce’. Watching them interacting and playing, it was as if the pupils had known each other for years and there were no differences between the two nations. It was an emotional moment, for us as staff.
Suddenly it was our departure day and we were back at Neunkirchen, saying our farewells. Our pupils were buzzing about the Exchange and discussing when they were going to see their exchange partners again.
This has been a truly groundbreaking event for Noadswood – our first German Exchange. It has been an amazing, life-changing experience, where the foundations for lifelong friendships have been started.
“Best week of my life. Made friends for life.”
“A time I’ll never forgot.”
“I have made lifelong friends. I never thought I’d learn so much while having so much fun.”