Fourteen American high school students from schools all across the United States have now been at Rückert Gymnasium for a week, having arrived on Thursday, 15. June. Most students had never been to Germany before, but they came with a minimum of two years previous instruction in German and a genuine interest in German language and culture. They have been busy every day, beginning with a guided walking tour led by Herr Krüger, which included visits to the Holocaust-Mahnmal and Reichstagskuppel.
After spending the weekend with their host families, we reconvened on Monday. The students attended classes with their German partners, after which we had a tour of the Schöneberg Rathaus, interesting in part to us because President Kennedy was there during his visit to Berlin. This was followed by an excellent German lesson with Herr Bolduan on language strategies to help communication when one is not a fluent speaker of German. Herr Krüger led us again on a Stadtführung of City West on Tuesday, followed by a tour of The Story of Berlin museum. On Wednesday, in addition to class time with their partners and German instruction with Herr Bolduan, we had a fun art workshop with Herr Rödig, in which the Americans and their partners painted T-shirts with Berlin motifs or designs of their choice. This was followed by a sports lesson with Herr Bolduan that combined physical activity with a memory game and German language practice!
On the last day of of their first week, the students had a unique opportunity to learn about conflict resolution in a workshop with representatives from the London based organization Solutions not Sides. We heard directly from both a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman in a presentation moderated by a British worker with the organization, in which both young people described their family backgrounds, their current lives (both are now university students in the UK) and how the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected them. Thereafter the students had the opportunity to analyse both the often-debated one-state and two-state solutions to the conflict and express their opinion as to which would be the best in a so-called "fishbowl format".
It is extraordinary how many well-organised activities have been fit into one week, and we are very grateful to Frau Frendo for her hard work and to the administration, faculty, and parents of Rückert Gymnasium for graciously hosting us.