German club lives Austrian mountain life

Debra Mol
Ramstein American High School

***image1***The Ramstein American High School German Club recently returned from their annual “Austrian Experience.”

The club spent March 2 to 6 in the Austrian Alpine village of St. Veit im Pongau, near Salzburg. During their stay, the students not only received four hours of ski or snowboard instruction per day, but they also were able to experience and learn more about the Austrian mountain culture, while improving their German language skills.

Preparation for the trip began with a “Snow Science” class given by RAHS biology teacher and Ski Patrol member Gretchen Diether-Haake. The students learned about safety in the winter mountain environment, as well as snowflake construction and snow types.

The second half of the class was presented by an Austrian ski instructor on the slopes. The students were able to view snow cross-sections and learn about the causes of avalanches, as well as the effects of the weather cycle and global warming on the Austrian Alps.

When not on the slopes, the students were busy in St. Veit. A local chef demonstrated how to make the famous Austrian dessert, apple strudel.

A local priest gave a tour of the village church and students learned about its rich 1,000-year history.

Advanced Placement German seniors Betsy Howe and Ryan Vanderneck interviewed the village mayor and all students learned about the effects of tourism on the small alpine village.

“We learned everything in German,” said senior Della Karlik, “how to make Apfelstrudel, the church tour, and the interview with the Burgermeister. It showed me how much German I really understood.”

Students were taken by horse-drawn sleigh up into the mountains to visit a small farm, and tour the farmhouse.

A local dance and singing club sang Austrian folk songs and taught students some local folk dances. Finally, the club learned to sing the Austrian folksong, “In die Berg bin i gern” in the local dialect. All of these activities took place in the German language, giving the students a mini language immersion experience.

Each student came home with a few sore muscles and a rich understanding of life in an Austrian alpine village.

“This trip was fun and educational, and a memory that I will cherish the rest of my life,” said senior Matt Omdal, on his second St. Veit study trip.