October 24, 2008
German students spend time with Homer peers
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
German student Sina Luz chuckles as Hartnett Elementary School students try their hand at pronouncing German words during their visit Thursday.
Leonard Mankowsky and Lisa Christian are each taking 15 classes, a required course load, at Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Germany.
The two sophomores have each taken six years of English and four years of French, and Christian has also taken two years of Spanish.
In Homer High School they are joining American students and following a typical six-course load.
“We have lots more homework in Germany than here. I’ve never seen my host doing homework,” Mankowsky said.
Christian said her host student spends about two hours doing homework each night. Both Mankowsky and Christian said they spend two to three hours on homework each night.
For the past 20 years high school students from Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Tuttlingen, Germany, have been studying as exchange students at Homer, Cortland and Ithaca high schools, and students from these schools have been studying in Tuttlingen.
The students pay their own way to participate in the program.
The German students are sophomores from Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium, a high school in southern Germany. Homer, Cortland and Ithaca students will study in Tuttlingen in June.
Dean Williams, a German, French and Spanish teacher, and Cynthia Herring, a German and French teacher, organize the program for Homer High School.
Williams said Homer, Cortland and Ithaca high schools generally send 20 to 25 students to study in Germany for a month. The trip costs each student about $1,300. This year there are 30 German exchange students in the three schools. About 40 students signed up, but they had to draw straws to decide who could go, said Britta Schwab, an English and history teacher at Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium who is the group leader for the students staying in Homer.
Williams said the exchange program is more valuable than typical organized trips, because it sets students up with a host family. He said many students keep in touch with their host families long after they return home.
The German students visited New York City for three days and are staying in Central New York for two and a half weeks. Their host families are all volunteers, Williams said.
Schwab said that this is her second time staying in Homer, but Williams goes to Germany every year and Herring goes every other year, because they are Homer’s only German teachers.
The exchange students spoke to classes at Homer Intermediate School and Hartnett Elementary School in Truxton on Thursday. They taught the students the German words for colors, numbers and the days of the week, writing the words on a chalkboard and asking the students to repeat their pronunciations. After teaching them how to count from one to 12 in German, they taught the youngsters how to say, “I am 12 years old.”
“Ich bin zwölf Jahre alt,” the students said almost in unison.
After school in Tuttlingen, Mankowsky repairs short circuits for a company that produces computers and electronics. Christian works in a factory that produces medical instruments for hospitals, picking out instruments from boxes and making sure they are not defective.
They agreed that Americans and American life are not very different from Germans and German life.
“I think there are little differences in every country, but I think the main thing is the same,” Christian said.
The German exchange program is the only one featured at Homer High School.
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