Wednesday, May 30th

Please excuse the last few days without any news. The students have had a long weekend and a holiday at school. We will post more tonight about what they did individually and collectively in their groups.

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Thursday, May 24th

The students got to experience the market in Blieskastel today. They have read about such markets in their textbooks, but it was nice to watch them walk around and view all of the area products, fresh produce, meats and cheese, flowers, etc. Some even walked away with a treat (or two). Enjoy the pictures.

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Katie’s Entry

My visit to Germany has been good so far! We’ve done a lot, and I’m seeing lots of things in Germany and also on our trip to Bitche, France. The first day we were here we watched the big soccer game with Duncan and Chiara. My host family along with Diana’s host family visited Bitche on Sunday, and saw some fantastic views and a little show that was in French. We also watched a big bike race that was in Anna’s village, Reinheim. There were even some American bikers, and it was really neat to see the whole village come together to watch the race. My first few days of school have been interesting, since I can only understand the English lesson and some of the math. Anna and her friends and family here have been great with helping me feel comfortable. I’m excited to go to Mainz tomorrow with all the GAPPers, and for the next few weeks in Germany!

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Jason’s Entry

So far, Germany has been fantastic. My family is very welcoming and is always including me in their activities. I’ve been taken to a Rhododendron garden, where I ran into Paige. The garden is full of different kinds of vendors, selling handmade items such as goat-fur brooms and jewelry. I was then taken to a Middle Ages Festival, where people were dressed up in medieval costumes and even forging their own weapons and armor. Below are some pictures of the Rhododendron garden, the Medieval Festival, and Blieskastel.

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Tuesday, May 22nd

Second day of school. I was able to meet with the students and we have discussed several observations about the German and American cultures. I have also given them a job to do. Each student will contribute one blog entry to the blog in order to give you readers insight into their experience. These will include pictures from the host family as well as observations. At the end I will add some more words and impressions. Happy reading!

Monday, May 21st

Moye! (Good morning in the regional dialect!). We had our first day of school today. It was very nice to see the students together speaking German and English. Especially nice was hearing about their weekends and exciting adventures from the Middle Ages Market to their visit in (hmmm) Bitche, France, and their funny stories about cultural differences between our two countries. Mrs. Schäfer and Ms. Buhr took the students and me on a tour of the school and explained the history of the various building. We then met this afternoon at the city hall and were received by the mayor of Blieskastel, Mrs. Faber-Wegener, as well as the Gesellschaftsdame (ladies companion) of Marianna von der Leyen, the wife and countess of Count Franz-Karl der Leyen for whom the city is named. This aristocratic family moved their residence from the German city of Koblenz to Blieskastel, where they established a orphanage as well as other social services for the less fortunate in the area. Today’s city hall occupies the orphanage that once was. Franz-Karl, who died at the very young age of 39, passed on the reign to his wife, as his son at that time was a minor and ineligible to rule by himself.

Mrs. Faber-Wegener also brought us up to speed on the current status of the city, for which the inhabitants of Blieskastel should be proud. Blieskastel has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, which means several things: 1) The city must have special permits when renovating buildings, making sure to keep them in the style in which they were built 2) The city has been recognized for continuing to develop homegrown products (honey, jam, fruits/veggies, etc.) and keeping with traditions.

The UN has also recognized the city as a biosphere reserve. This means that it features “a high degree of spatial and histroic complexity whin a relatively small area, simultaneously in abiotic, biotic and social respects.” The mayor mentioned how proud she was that her town has been recognized as a “slow city” – a recognition from Italy for being a town that does not include fast-food or other such restaurants that mimic a “fast town”, i.e. USA, Canada, etc. where such food is available overall. This information was interesting to the students and me, especially because we had never heard of such towns. I’m certain they will gain some new perspectives as a result.

Pretzels and were offered at the end of the presentation as a symbol of mutual friendship. The mayor stressed before we left the importance of our exchange program and the life-changing opportunities they will encounter in the next several weeks. Please see some pictures from today:

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Sunday, May 20th

Today I saw Jason at the Middle Ages Market in Kirkel, a small village in the surrounding area. What fun! People from all over come, wearing their medieval gear, sell leather good, pound on iron to make swords, and grill wild pig! The best part of the market is going to the Kirkeler Burg (stronghold) and having a look at the entire village. Here are a few pictures. I can hardly wait to see the others tomorrow and see how their weekend was and finally write more detailed information. A very exciting time for BHS and Von der Leyen students. Tune in for tomorrow’s news!

Frau Schäfer (Lead German Advisor) and I decided it appropriate to have a German/English daily idiomatic expression.

Der Weg ist das Ziel : The journey is its own reward!

How fitting, oder?

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