Germany Meets America — Part 2


Photo Credit: Michael Emmerman ’22

This past February break, five SHS students participated in the second part of the German exchange program. Scarsdale students were partnered with students from the Elisabeth-von-Thadden School in Heidelberg. As part of the exchange program, the German students that previously hosted the SHS students had the opportunity to come to the United States to reunite with their respective hosts and experience American culture and academics.

Photo Credit: Michael Emmerman ’22

On Saturday, March 9th, the German students arrived at JFK International Airport. All of the SHS students, along with Social Studies teacher Carlos Bedoya, picked them up at the airport and headed straight to dinner. The Scarsdale students hosted a welcome dinner for the German students at the Fox Meadow Tennis Club. Since it was an early dinner, the student partners had time to catch up with their German friends, after approximately two weeks of not seeing one another.

On Sunday, March 10th, the German students slept in and adjusted to the time difference. Later that day, the students met at the Westchester Mall to walk around. The Scarsdale students introduced the German students to the popular merchandise and stores from the perspective of an American teenager and gave them a glimpse of American pop culture.

The next day, the German students came to school with their Scarsdale partners. They began the day with a meeting with SHS Principal Kenneth Bonamo in his office, then attended second period classes with the Scarsdale students. After going to classes, the German students attended a workshop with Social Studies Department Chair John Harrison. For the remainder of the day, the German students stayed with their partners. Many found the academic aspect of Scarsdale similar to their school, but were surprised by some differences. “[My exchange student was] fond of our Civ Ed program. She was very confused when she first came into my advisory. She did not understand the idea that we could have a class dedicated to just playing games and talking about our days. Also, she was shocked at first to discover how large our schools was in both physical size and student population, as walking the halls in Germany do not consist of large crowds and a fast pace,” explained Molly Flicker ‘22. After school, they all went to a student’s house, where SHS students worked on homework, and the German students had some down time.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

On Tuesday, the Scarsdale and German students skipped school to go to New York City. The students met at the Hartsdale Train Station at 7:15am. The first destinations for the group were the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island via ferry. Additionally, the students went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore its vast collection. “It was so interesting to see how intrigued the Germans were by everything going on. I honestly forgot how touristy NYC can be, until I [was] with tourists themselves. They were amazed by all of the tourist attractions,” remarked SHS student Lydia Doherty ‘22. 

On Wednesday, March 13th, the students missed school again to head back to NYC. The students explored the 9/11 museum in lower Manhattan. It was a very heart-wrenching and sad experience, although it was very interesting for the German students to learn about it from an American perspective. “We already learned and talked a lot about the 9/11 tragedy before, so it was interesting to get a better insight on that. I enjoyed the One World Observatory a lot because the panorama view was stunning, and we really got to see the city,” said 15-year-old German exchange student Fiona Sullivan. After visiting the museum, the students ate lunch at Bareburger and had dessert at DŌ, an edible cookie dough shop. The students then went to the Freedom Tower and took in the stunning view of NYC from the top story.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

On Thursday, the Scarsdale students returned to SHS, while the German students returned to NYC for the third straight day with Computer Science/Technology teacher Greg Leong. The students explored Chinatown and enjoyed this part of the trip, especially because they had the chance to have a firsthand experience of the diversity of New York City.

On Friday, March 15th, the Germans traveled to NYC yet again to listen to jazz music in Harlem with former SHS Social Studies teacher Maggie Favretti. The students went on a tour with a jazz musician named Phil Young. “I really enjoyed meeting Phil Young since he told us about his inspiring life,” added Sullivan. That night, a student hosted a sleepover with all members of the exchange program.

On Saturday, all of the students went to the city together. They walked around SoHo and shopped. They also went to Times Square and ate lunch at Black Tap, a restaurant known for its burgers and creative milkshakes. “It was really fun to go to the city on Saturday because we had a lot of freedom and no limit on time,” said SHS student Michael Emmerman ‘22. “That’s when I think the Germans had the best time, because that was when they really could see shops and New York and any place they desired to go,” noted Emmerman.

On Sunday, March 17th, everyone woke up late and went to see the Broadway show The Prom that all of the students enjoyed. For dinner that night, the parents joined the students for dinner at an Italian restaurant in NYC.

Photo Credit: Michael Emmerman ’22

The next day, the German students came back to SHS and accompanied the Scarsdale students all day. After school, the Germans met with the Students for Refugees club. For dinner that night, everyone gathered at Chat Grill in Scarsdale Village for a farewell dinner.

On Tuesday, the German students visited the design lab to see all of the new and interesting technology that SHS students are using. The Germans found the design lab to be very exciting, since their school in Heidelberg does not have a design lab. “Elisabeth-von-Thadden has a lot of history that is noticeable because many of our classes take place in old houses like music classes in a house which was previously a castle,” explained Sullivan. “Using smart boards was something I was not used to, and we use laptops a lot less in comparison to the Scarsdale classes,” added Sullivan. At the end of the day, all of the students, along with Mr. Bedoya and the German teacher, were called out of 7th period to say their final goodbyes and to reflect on both parts of the program. “I totally misinterpreted Germany before I took part in this program. I thought they wouldn’t be able to speak great English, and I thought our hobbies would  be different. I discovered that the cultures were very similar. They like the same music, they like playing the same sports, and they eat similar foods,” said Emmerman. The Scarsdale parents drove the German students back to JFK airport to conclude a cultural exchange that will never be forgotten. “Going into the exchange, almost everybody had a stereotypical idea about what Germany would be like, but Germany and America are very similar fundamentally. Although they are many miles away and may appear different on the surface, both places have similar values,” concluded Flicker.