Keller High School will play host to 22 students and two teachers from Germany in October through a cultural exchange program; next June, a group of young Americans will get to go to Germany.
“The students get to experience each others school and country,” said Ross Miller, the KHS Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher who coordinates the American side of the program. “It’s a chance to connect and have a better sense of one another.”
The exchange between St. Ursula Schule in Geisenheim, Germany, and various high schools in Wisconsin and Texas began in 1960 when American teacher and World War II veteran Gerald Lipert wanted to promote understanding between young people in the two countries. The program takes place every other year.
In both places, students stay in host homes for about two weeks.
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“There’s only so much American culture you can get at the Holiday Inn,” Miller said. “They stay with families, eat together, do things together. It’s one of the most intense experiences you can have.”
This is the first time the program has been to Keller. Miller came to the district in 2013 after teaching in Lewisville and Fort Worth. He assisted the previous coordinator, Steve Bourgeois, for several years before taking the lead in 2012.
Miller said he got a good response from the Keller High community last year when he sought host homes. Students in those homes have first priority on the slots to Germany next summer. Geisenheim, located in Rhein River valley wine country, is known for its historic buildings and a 700-year-old Linden tree in front of town hall.
Students from the two countries who participate in the exchange often become life-long friends, Miller said.
Keller High Principal Michael Nasra said, “This is a great opportunity for KHS students and the community to be exposed to students from Germany.”
The exchange helps students to gain a better understanding of community priorities, the opportunities in education and share with others, Nasra said.
Miller said he hopes students gain a broader perspective of the world.
“It can help them grow and become more receptive to other people and more receptive of ideas,” he said. “They can have a sense of things beyond themselves.”