Dorchester County students head to Germany

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Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Dorchester County high school students are ready to travel to BWI International Airport to travel for 12 days as guests of host families in Germany. From left, front row: Chaperone Attilie Kilmon, Al Flaggs, Rachel Ewing, Makayla Hitch, Hannah Lewis. In the rear: Megan Neal, Tionie Gregory and Christine Smith, chaperone.

CAMBRIDGE — The excitement was contagious when seven Dorchester County high school students, their feet planted on Eastern Shore soil, gathered their backpacks and suitcases, checked their passports and prepared to spend 12 days in Germany. Only two of the seven speak German but nobody worried about that.

According to trip organizer Anneslie Kilmon, “We’re the only county on the Eastern Shore that has German in the foreign language department. It’s not a requirement for the trip.  The German students start learning English in kindergarten so by the time they are in 11th grade they take classes where they do all their work in English so they speak English fairly well.”

North Dorchester High School (NDHS) student Al Flaggs said he does not speak German fluently, but “most of them (German students) speak English and I have a little dictionary that I can use for the basics like finding a bathroom, water, or food.” Al looks forward to seeing “a new culture because I’m used to just American culture.” He respects Germany’s approach to the environment as well because “they don’t like to throw away as much stuff as we do.”

“My sister went to Germany two years ago,” said North Dorchester student Rachel Ewing.  “She always bragged about how wonderful it was and I thought ‘oh my gosh, I have to go now.’ I’m looking forward to seeing the cultural differences and being with the friends I’ve made.” Rachel’s family hosted German students in the exchange program last year.  She speaks the language after completing German II this year.

Students travelling this year also include: NDHS students Megan Neal and Katie Smith; C-SDHS students Hannah Lewis, Tionie Gregory, and Makayla Hitch. The second chaperone is Christine Smith, an accounting teacher at C-SDHS.

Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (C-SDHS) teacher Ms. Kilmon is of German descent.  “I am a first generation American and was teaching at C-SD when they decided to start an exchange program as an outgrowth of the German Partnership between Cambridge and Duren.  My principal at the time, John Wood, knew that I spoke some German and thought I would be the best person to take some students. So in 2007 I took three students and we stayed for three weeks. We have gone every year except 2012 and 2014. This is the 7th trip.”

Students stay with host families; chaperones stay with host teachers. Twelve German students will visit in Dorchester County in October. Normally there are 15 but Ms. Kilmon noted the difficulty in finding enough host families. “It’s a mutual exchange between two high schools. Our students will attend school in Germany with field trips to Berlin, Cologne, Aachen, and Bonn.” Their counterparts will attend school here interspersed with field trips.

Ms. Kilmon said “it would be great” if more people would volunteer to host exchange students for two weeks. “We have only found 12 host families this year so if anyone out there is willing to host a student, call the high schools or the Board of Education.”  Interested people can also contact the Chamber of Commerce to reach the German Partnership.

In the meantime, “Bon Voyage” to the seven Dorchester County students; or should we say “Gute Reise!”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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