The eight Hayes High School students who hosted German exchange students in September are heading to Baumholder in March. Baumholder, Germany, is one of Delaware's sister cities. Last year, Baumholder sent a group of students and diplomats to visit with Delaware government officials.
Dan Bartha, assistant principal at Hayes, said when the school decided to plan a trip to Germany, the decision was made to first extend the offer to students who were host families.
"Since these students experienced having the German culture in their homes, it will be a nice, full-circle, year-long process for them to experience the German students' culture in their home country," he said.
All eight students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, will be able to make the trip from March 27 through April 6. The trip will be mostly funded by the Community Foundation of Delaware County.
When the German students came to Delaware, they spent a lot of time in the school and with their host families in order to practice their English skills.
The students going to Germany don't know German, so the visit will focus more on culture than language, Bartha said.
"The priority for the German students was to improve their English skills, and not so much going to New York City and sightseeing," he said. "For our students, we want them to soak up the culture, not to learn the language."
Activities planned for the students include visits to churches, libraries, castles and possibly a United States Army base. Bartha said while the students are in Germany, they will take part in a World War I remembrance day scheduled at a battle site.
"I think this is going to be a very powerful experience for them," he said. "They will get to see a foreign country remembering a battle and see it from their perspective.
Kim Young, world language department chairwoman, will accompany the students to Germany. Although she doesn't know German, she is learning some for the trip, Bartha said.
"Kim is a great asset for us in the district," he said. "She knows many languages and has organized multiple overseas trips for students."
Prior to the trip, Young will organize orientation activities that will include inviting the German Round Table in Delaware to share some of the cultural differences between Germany and the United States.
"Some of our students are concerned about doing things that might be offensive and want to know what's culturally acceptable," Bartha said. "I think this will put them at ease about making this trip."
Bartha said the trip will be the first overseas for some of the students, and for others, it will be their first time on an airplane.
He said the students had the excitement of having foreign visitors in their hometown, and now they have the excitement of seeing those same students in their hometown.
"There is a positive nervous energy in the students; they are full of energy and good questions," he said. "This is going to be a life-changing experience for all of them."