Twenty-seven students and three teachers from Hermann-Staudinger-Gymnasium, a high school in Erlenbach am Main, Bavaria, Germany, gathered Sunday, April 8, at the Florida Agricultural Museum for a farewell dinner with the students and parents from Flagler Palm Coast High School who had hosted them for the past two weeks.
The Germans visited Palm Coast and its surrounding areas as part of an exchange program organized by Flagler Palm Coast High School Media Assistant Almut Godette.
In 2010, Godette flew to Germany for her 20-year class reunion. While there, she met with former classmate Annette Wohlmann and began planning for the exchange program.
“It’s opening their horizons so much more,” Godette said.
With the help of the Palm Coast Rotary Club, which provided liability insurance for the program, visiting students attended class for three days, where they created art and culinary projects and shadowed the students they stayed with. During Spring Break, students visited Universal Studios, Sea World, the Kennedy Space Center, Fort Matanzas, the Castillo de San Marcos, the Alligator Farm and the Agricultural Museum.
“I found out that America is very different from what you think about it,” said German student Luise Gehramann. “Before I came, I thought that everyone was fat and all eating fast food and driving big trucks. It’s like everyone is thinking of Germany that they are just drinking beer and eating schnitzel.”
Throughout her trip, Gehramann said she learned that stereotype is not always true, but that Germany is a better fit for her.
To complete the second part of the exchange program, teacher Per Berg will join Godette and 12 students on a trip to Germany June 1 through June 17.
One student who will be attending the trip is 15-year-old Olivia Murphy.
“I just think it was cool to learn about their culture and how they’re different from us,” Murphy said of her experience hosting German students.
For her first visit to Europe, Murphy said that while she is excited to learn about the country, she is probably more excited about the food.
To prepare for the trip, students must raise $2,000 each. To aid in this effort, they will host a car wash 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Intracoastal Bank, 1290 Palm Coast Parkway and Sunday, April 15, at the corner of County Roads 305 and 302, in Bunnell.