BROCKWAY — The exchange of cultures continues in Brockway as exchange students visit the small town from Hann. Münden, Germany.
The annual visit from Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School’s “sister school” in Germany came in a cold, rainy March, a little sooner than last year, but just in time to celebrate Easter.
“Our traditions are pretty much the same,” said German student Leon Kroll. “We go to church and have chocolate.”
The German students get to fully experience an American Easter because, unlike traditional tourists, they stay with host families in Brockway.
“If you go as a tourist, you don’t learn much about the culture,” explained German chaperone Eckhard Mielenhausen. “You can see landmarks and visit cities, but you learn about the culture by staying with families.”
The German visitors follow their host student around the school during the school day. They spend time with the families, seeing everyday life in Brockway.
One thing that is typical every year the Germans come: different opinions on chocolate, which the Germans will have plenty of opportunity to analyze over Easter.
“You have chocolate like in Germany, but Hershey’s, all I taste is the sugar,” Kroll said.
The host students did not see that as a problem, pointing out the differences and how Germans love German chocolate and Americans love American chocolate.
“We have Hershey’s all the time, so we’re used to it,” Brockway sophomore Kayla Jamison said. “Their chocolate is what they’re used to.”
Even the choices of chocolate surprised the students.
“You have so many choices here,” German Michelle Gerner said. “You can choose the math class you will take in school.”
That amount of choice in America continued to surprise the adult chaperones.
“You have so many choices in education and even at the supermarket,” chaperone Andrea Holzberg said.
But even though the Germans came to America to learn about this culture, they did bring some of their culture to Brockway. The Germans got to introduce American students to German rap music.
The students are matched up with available host students and begin talking through texts and Skype before the exchange students get on the plane in Germany. While the Germans get to celebrate Easter, they will soon bid farewell to their host families and head back to Hann. Münden. Brockway German teacher Eric Stawecki said that the connections made here can last a lifetime, and students sometimes try to get to Germany to see their friends again.
“I liked being here very much,” Gerner said. “Everything I did was fun.”