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Exchange program creates lifelong friendships

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Acadia Junior High this year celebrates its eighth year of an exchange student program with 29 German students from a high school in Pfarrkirchen, Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany.

Acadia welcomes its German partners at the beginning of September each year while Acadia students visit Pfarrkirchen in April/May.

Teachers Matt Oberholtzer and Tony Paukovic, along with vice-principal Jacqui Kroeker, are involved in the exchange this year, but many staff members have hosted the German teachers, Susanne Graf and Simone Landstorfer, each year.

Kroeker says "this exchange program has enabled a strong friendship to evolve between the schools and it gets harder every year to say goodbye, both for the adults and the students".

Each Acadia student is paired up with a German partner and each family provides a home-stay for two weeks.

Kroeker says the program "is an invaluable experience for the exchange students and their families, as they have the chance to discover the culture, history, geography and the people of both countries".

The German exchange students have visited Carberry Desert Spirit Sands, Gimli and the Icelandic Museum, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Manitoba Museum. Fort Whyte Centre, Lower Fort Garry, Lockport Dam and Amazing Corn are among their next points of call.

Many host families have taken the exchange students to Kenora, Grand Forks, and Birds Hill.
Pfarrkirchen is a small town with approximately 11,000 inhabitants. It is set within rolling hills and is only one hour from Munich and Salzburg. These two cities are rich with culture that the students will experience firsthand.

"At the end of the exchange", Kroeker says, "both the adults and the students would agree that despite the apparent differences, we have more in common than not. This is what makes the program such a valuable learning process.

"In fact, the bond between the students has sometimes led to further trips to reconnect with their former exchange partners.

"This program has created lifelong friendships and what more could you ask for?"

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