Right row, front to back, Christoph Hertler, Marian Jerke, Sandra Franenreiter, Kyle Bauder, Hogan High instructor Andrea Marek and Stefanie Lorenz.
has taken her
German students at Hogan High School
on two-week summer trips to Germany every other year since 1998.
The cultural evolution finally took hold this recent journey, Marek
"In previous years, the kids were happy to see a McDonald's
(in Germany)," Marek
said."On this trip, I didn't have one of the students say, I'm really craving a McDonald's
.' They'd say, I love this German food.This is great.I can do without American food.' " Marek
and 20 students took the July 18 trip to Stuttgart, a mere 5,700 miles from Vallejo.Most of the students had hosted German students last spring, so they had an inkling of what life in Germany was all about.
"We have kids who have gone on the trip twice after developing friendships with the exchange students," Marek
said."When they come back, they realize there is something else out there besides Vallejo."
Sure, there's some culture shock, Marek
First off, Germans love their bread.
"If anyone is on the Atkins Diet, you would not survive in Germany," Marek
said.Despite the carbo-loading, "Germans are very skinny and our (Hogan High) kids say, How do they do this?' "
Secondly, there are stairs.Lots of stairs.
"There are stairs everywhere you go," Marek
And, coming from a country where there are aisles of bottled water in the supermarkets and great beer everywhere, regular old H20 is rare.
"You have a very difficult time getting water," Marek
said, laughing that the German phrase, "water with gas," doesn't sit well with Americans.
"The expression gas' has a very different meaning here," Marek
Though the legal drinking age is 16 in Germany (and the driving age 18), the American students weren't allowed to imbibe, Market noted.
"You have to go everywhere with a bicycle," she
said."So the kids get a good workout."
Because school was in session in Germany, the Hogan students were able to do many presentations for their teen counterparts, Marek
"The German students watched Bowling for Columbine' in English and had a discussion with my students," Marek
said."When they (the German students) were here, they did a presentation at Hogan High School
.So we have some kind of cultural and intellectual exchange."
Though the Hogan students stayed much of the time with German families, they saw each other daily at the German school which runs much like a year-round school operates here, Marek
"The school systems are very different," Marek
A typical student at the German high school
has 13 different subjects, which includes three foreign languages.
"That is where we fail," Marek
said."Foreign language is not part of our core curriculum.It's an elective."
competes with ceramics and video production for students.
"If I don't have the numbers, I'm without a job," she
said."In Europe, you have to take foreign languages."
Europe mandates foreign language from the first grade on, Marek
"We (in the United States) start out foreign language at the worst possible time, as a a teenager," Marek
said."It's when you don't want to be embarrassed making funny sounds." Marek
, who doesn't get paid for the Germany trips, hopes the bi-annual journeys to a foreign land have long-term benefits.
"In this climate of politics, maybe we can go and make sure people create friendships across borders so we don't have wars," Marek
The German instructor said the trip is good news "with so much bad publicity" coming out of the Vallejo City Unified School District
"There are good things happening at the local school," Marek
RETURN TO TOP