German exchange students learn and share

 Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan German exchange students, their host mother and state government officials shared a toast last week. From the left are Jennifer Brant, Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-37B), Kiara Unger, Merlin Becker, Lennard Wilner, Delegate Chris Adams (R-37B) and State Senator Addie Eckardt (R-37).


Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
German exchange students, their host mother and state government officials shared a toast last week. From the left are Jennifer Brant, Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-37B), Kiara Unger, Merlin Becker, Lennard Wilner, Delegate Chris Adams (R-37B) and State Senator Addie Eckardt (R-37).

CAMBRIDGE – It’s been a busy two months for three exchange students at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School. Kiara Unger, Merlin Becker and Lennard Wilner have traveled the region, played sports, participated in cultural activities and picked up the latest American slang.

Now, they are getting ready to return to their homes in Cologne, after a three-day visit to New York City. But they found time to visit Blackwater Bakery last week, to celebrate their successful visit with state government officials.

Kiara Unger, Merlin Becker and Lennard Wilner were with host mother Jennifer Brant, as they met Delegate Chris Adams (R-37B), Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-37B) and State Senator Addie Eckardt (R-37) for hot drinks and a treats. The students shared a bit of their culture, raising their drinks and saying, “Prost!” the traditional German toast.

While the trio are here, local student Elizabeth Dodge is in Germany. Lee and Jennifer Grier are hosting Lennard in Dorchester, while Kiara and Merlin are staying with the Brants.

“They have been here since early October,” Ms. Brant said. She is the president of the sponsoring organization, Dorchester County International Council, formerly known as the German Partnership.

“We have been around since 2007,” she said. “We are a cultural, educational and business organization.”

The council focuses on educational activities, she said, adding that more than 250 students have visited the county in the program. That’s a lot of planning, and plain old work, getting things in order for the young visitors.

“This is my ninth time” as host mother, Ms. Brant said.

The group raises money from a variety of sources, with Crabtoberfest being the biggest contributor. These funds pay for trips to New York, Washington, D.C., Ocean City and other destinations.

The students contribute quite a bit themselves.

“I’m going to cook for my host family, sauerkraut and white sausage,” Lennard said as the group sipped their drinks and got to know one another.

While all guests are from Cologne in western Germany, Kiara and Merlin have known each other for some time. “We are from the same school, Gymnasium Kreuzau,” Merlin said.

They speak fluent English, one of the reasons they were chosen from among other applicants to make the trip. But good grades and years of study weren’t enough – they had to appear before a panel of 12 politicians from their area to demonstrate their proficiency.

“I had to prepare a presentation,” Merlin said. He chose to speak – all in English, of course – on climate change. With a smile, he said, “I prepared many hours.”

They found it easy to make friends among their new schoolmates. In part, that was because they had “shadows in the first weeks,” Kiara said, explaining that local students stuck with them for a while, to show them around the school.

It must have worked. They went on to take part in C-SD activities: Merlin acted in the radio play, and both boys were on the indoor track and field team.

Kiara, Merlin and Lennard will be home in time for Christmas. They are scheduled to return to Germany on Saturday.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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