The GAPP: Connecting Students from Germany and America


Mr. James Russell

German Students while touring The University of Arkansas Campus on Oct. 19th.

Kourtney Allee, Reporter

The GERMAN AMERICAN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM (GAPP), a Fayetteville High School foreign exchange program coordinated by Mr. Russell, welcomed German students from Berlin on Oct. 12. 2019. The program encompasses ideas of learning about the culture of Germany and America, as well as building friendships between these two nations. 

“It’s cliché to say, but seeing the kids bonding, the hosts and their guests, being able to see these friendships form and last, that’s the best part, hands down,” Russell said. 

12 students from the Goethe Gymnasium Berlin Lichterfielde in Germany, had the opportunity to stay with a host family, attend Fayetteville High School and tour Northwest Arkansas for two weeks. In late May and early June FHS students, who have completed German 3, got the opportunity to go to Germany for almost three weeks. During the trip, those students spent two weeks in Berlin, attended Goethe Gymnasium school and stayed in Munich for five days.

Students while touring Tri Cycle Farms on October 15th. learned about being a part of the community. Aylin Ergün is pictured above.

 The German students, lead by Mr. Russell, visited different places that are important to our community. Tri Cycle Farms, a nonprofit organization of urban farms that addresses food insecurity, was one place in Fayetteville the exchange students enjoyed. Russell explained that he enjoyed going to Tri Cycle Farms because he was able to “‘share this thing that exists just here in downtown Fayetteville and how it’s community-facing and outreach focused.’” The students were able to taste different produce that they do not have in Germany and learn about the importance of agriculture in Fayetteville. 

    Chiara Gerke, one of the German students said that her favorite place visited by GAPP participants was Crystal Bridges. Gerke explained her love for art and how Crystal Bridges was beautiful and inspiring. German students also had the opportunity to go to the Walmart Museum and learn about the creation of Walmart through Sam Walton. The students were able to tour the Beaver Water District in Lowell, Arkansas and even went to Oklahoma to learn about Native American culture at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

During 6th period Annika Bendix and Aylin Ergün teach German Two students about Berlin transportation.

The exchange students gave presentations about Berlin in the FHS German classes. Transportation was discussed and how it costs over $2,000 for a driver’s license. Due to this enormous cost, students are heavily reliant on public transportation such as the U-Bahn and buses. Students were also able to see the standard classroom in Germany and learned that technology is not used as heavily as it is in the U.S. for education. Overall, German students were able to express themselves and their culture, which was an enlightening educational experience for FHS students.        

A big part of the GAPP program was host families and building relationships. Junior Matthew Teague had the opportunity to host a German exchange student. Teague explained how neat it was to “show her what my family does … and give a personal touch instead of explaining to her what an average American family was.” Through the GAPP program, the German students were able to experience the life of an American student firsthand. Communication was one thing Teague said was easier than he thought, but it still came with some difficulty. The German students did not initially understand a few English words learned them quickly. 

Olivia Hahn, one of the German exchange students said that “most of us have been speaking English for eight years.” 

Senior Carson Young, who also hosted an exchange student, said being part of the program was rewarding. This was most of the students’ first time in the United States, so Young was determined to help them feel welcomed and feel “Fayetteville’s funky personality.” Young said that a German student attended English class with him and said that they knew some stuff he didn’t. He had the opportunity to go to Germany through this program in the Summer of 2019. As a result, Young wanted to return the generosity the students in Berlin gave him. Young was also able to take a German Student with him to a few classes, like Physics and Advisory. Frida Heybach, one of the exchange students said that there is no advisory at their school. 

 “There were some literary terms I didn’t know that she knew, which blew me away. I was able to share the culture of Fayetteville, Arkansas and America as a whole. Taking the students to advisory showed some of the freedom we have as students here in Fayetteville High School that they might not have in Berlin,” Young said.

German students saying goodbye before they left to NYC on Oct. 29. 2019

Many bonds between the German students and host families were formed through this great program which has been running for 35 years. The German students left October 29 and left a lasting impact on FHS and our students. Fayetteville High School looks forward to next year when the German exchange students come to Fayetteville again. Until then, Auf Wiedersehen! 



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