DODEA, local schools strengthen partnerships

by Constanze Humphrey 86th Mission Support Group

The eleven Department of Defense Education Activity schools in the KMC have the unique opportunity to engage with local German schools and villages. These engagements not only improve the overall quality of education for our children but also foster a better understanding of, and relationship with, our host nation and community.

The nature of the partnerships vary from school to school. Some of the student exchange programs consist of biannual visits with hands–on activities; others include arts and crafts, dancing, bowling, chess tournaments and concerts. Science, technology, engineering and math symposiums with German students provide both German and American students with a worldview spin on the traditional STEM projects. In addition, German-American seminars have been held in Bad Marienberg, where the students discussed political, social and cultural situations. Many students become pen pals with students from other schools, which creates lasting friendships and a better understanding of each other’s culture.

Before and during the students’ visit to each other’s schools, they learn about the differences and similarities of the two school systems. They also participate in a regular school day where they interact with students and teachers. One of the highlights during these visits is often the school lunch. Parents will often send in typical food from their home or act as chaperons, making their participation in these exchange programs critical.

Aside from the classroom exchange programs, there are many other German-American activities going on in our schools. Some of the other activities include Kaiserslautern Kreis Symphony Orchestra concerts hosted by DODEA schools, student internships from the surrounding German gymnasium schools and presentations by local German principals explaining the history of the area and the influence of the Romans in Germany, just to name a few examples. Simply put, there are many superb partnerships with our German hosts at all school levels.

Each of these partnership programs lead to a strong bond between the local communities and the KMC. These intercultural exchanges provide excellent opportunities to teach cultural appreciation, understanding and cooperation among both the American and German students.