BHS students visit German counterparts

BITBURG, Germany – American and German high school students share statements about their culture during a school exchange program April 22, 2013. Fourty-five American and German students participated in the exchange this year, which is designed to expose the students to an intercultural experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – American and German high school students share statements about their culture during a school exchange program April 22, 2013. Fourty-five American and German students participated in the exchange this year, which is designed to expose the students to an intercultural experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – American and German high school students study English together during a school exchange program April 22, 2013. Along with mixing cultures, the program allowed the students to build friendships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – American and German high school students study English together during a school exchange program April 22, 2013. Along with mixing cultures, the program allowed the students to build friendships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – Sven Mehlhorn, St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium Biology and Chemistry teacher, instructs both American and German students participating in a school exchange program April 22, 2013. American students attended German classes to interact and learn in the foreign environment. (U.S. Air For photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – Sven Mehlhorn, St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium Biology and Chemistry teacher, instructs both American and German students participating in a school exchange program April 22, 2013. American students attended German classes to interact and learn in the foreign environment. (U.S. Air For photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – Amber Buracker, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Anthony Buracker, left, and Kayla Adamoyurka work together in a biology class at St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium during a school exchange program April 22, 2013. The two students became school exchange partners at the beginning of the year and have been in contact ever since. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany – Amber Buracker, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Anthony Buracker, left, and Kayla Adamoyurka work together in a biology class at St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium during a school exchange program April 22, 2013. The two students became school exchange partners at the beginning of the year and have been in contact ever since. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/Released)

BITBURG, Germany -- Editor's note: This is part two of a three part series highlighting a school exchange program with Bitburg High School and a local German Gymnasium. This part of the series features the second exchange held at St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium.

More than 20 Bitburg High School students visited St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium, a local German school, for an exchange program April 22, 2013.

This was the second phase of the program, with the first being a few months ago when the German students visited the Americans.

The program, which had been in existence in the past, has just been reinitiated to bring American and German students together for an intercultural exchange.

"The program was created not only to expose the students to a foreign language, but a cultural experience," said Birgit Nicholson, who is a teacher from Bitburg High School and grew up here in Germany.

The students got to see the interaction and see how teaching takes place in a German classroom, and were able to weigh the similarities and differences between American and German teaching methods.

American students sat in on everyday high school classes that were taught in a language that they may not understand completely.

"There was definitely a large language barrier," said ninth-grader Shawn Robinson, who goes to school at Bitburg High School. "But all of the material was the same."

Along with learning together, students used free time to get to know their counterparts throughout the school day.

"I knew about the Americans and that they were so close by," said 11th- grader Miriam Arens from St.-Willibrord-Gymnasium. "But I didn't actually know the people. After getting to know them, I realized they are really open-minded, and I like that."

This was the last curriculum-based visit of the program for the rest of the school year. But, students and teachers involved in the program hope the interaction will continue.

"We hope the students take it outside of the classroom," Nicholson said. "We should not just quit right here and stop the whole thing. But now we should take it outside of the two schools and have some other sort of socialization for the students to further strengthen their newfound relationships."

Teachers from both schools plan to host a barbecue before the end of the school year, giving the students a chance to continue their social interactions outside of the education system.