German exchange students spend time in halls of EHS

By on November 16, 2011

By: ANGELA CABEZAS Review Staff, Staff Writer

Ann-Kathrin Sigmund (front left) and Gregor Lamprecht (front right), two of the 24 students who visited Ephrata High School from Eberbach, Germany last month, pose with their host siblings Sarah Hoffer and Lukas Olson. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)Ann-Kathrin Sigmund (front left) and Gregor Lamprecht (front right), two of the 24 students who visited Ephrata High School from Eberbach, Germany last month, pose with their host siblings Sarah Hoffer and Lukas Olson. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Ephrata High School (EHS) welcomed 24 newcomers to its halls of learning last month when students from Eberbach, Germany traveled to Lancaster County for a two-week stay.

"We have more German (exchange) students this year than we did" ever before, said Bonnie Strohl, who has taught German at Ephrata since 1974. "I think it’s just the reputation of the exchange. It’s become so popular they have a lottery in Germany."

More than 50 students from Hohenstaufen-Gymnasiums Eberbach, the school in Ephrata’s German sister-city, submitted applications in hopes of taking part in the exchange program, which has been going on since 1989. Less than half of those who applied were picked for the trip.

Ann-Kathrin Sigmund, 17, and Gregor Lamprecht, 15, were two who made the cut.

"So many students wanted to go to America, and we were the lucky ones because we got picked," said Sigmund. "I’m happy to be here."

She and Lamprecht, like the rest of their classmates, stayed with Ephrata host families from the time they arrived on Oct. 15 until their departure on Oct. 30. This allowed them to learn about several aspects of American culture that they would not have experienced otherwise.

"The main point of the exchange is home and school life," Strohl explained. "They’re here to see how our schools work and what our families are like."

Said Lamprecht, "I learned a lot about American (ways of life), like going to church on Sundays or how they organize their school days. It’s also fun to learn how to play table tennis and basketball in front of the garage."

"We have also been to the homecoming dance," Sigmund added, "and we don’t have something like this in Germany. It’s really fun to do American things."

"We took Ann-Kathrin to Park City to experience the malls here, and King of Prussia, and that was huge, so she got to experience a little bit of that," said Sarah Hoffer, Sigmund’s host sister and a senior at EHS. "We’re going to the beach this weekend so she’ll see the beach here, the Atlantic Ocean, and they have outlets there. She likes to shop a lot."

Hoffer and Lukas Olson, Lamprecht’s host brother, consider themselves just as lucky to have Lamprecht and Sigmund in their homes as the other two feel to be there.

"My sister’s best friend hosted a student two years ago, and… I thought it would be a cool experience to host a student of my own," Hoffer said. "It’s been great, and I really enjoy having her here."

Olson said he feels the same way. "I’m a freshman and freshmen don’t usually host students," he explained. "But the girl who was supposed to do it, her sister got really sick or something, so then they needed somebody else and they called my house and asked if I wanted to host."

The exchange has been a learning experience for Americans and Germans alike. The teens expanded each other’s vocabulary in German and in English, and Lamprecht, Sigmund and the other Eberbach students gave in-class presentations about their country to Strohl’s German language students. The Germans also received lessons in U.S. history, taking trips to the Ephrata Cloister, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Sigmund and Lamprecht have also learned an appreciation for new foods.

"The night after (Lamprecht) came he tried his first s’more," Olson said.

Hoffer added, "We tried to introduce Ann-Kathrin to Lancaster County foods, like shoo fly pie, chicken pot pie and things like that."

The food was not what the Germans had expected. "I thought I’d be getting more fast food, or unhealthy," Lamprecht said. "But my host family is very good at cooking."

A special favorite of Lamprecht’s is pancakes.

"I love them," he declared. "We have a kind of pancakes, but they are not that good, and kind of differently made."

Peanut butter, Sigmund’s weakness, is the same case. "We have it, but it’s not as popular as here, and it’s a little different," she said, mentioning that she loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The two students hoped to take samples of their newly discovered foods back to Germany with them along with souvenirs from New York and the other places they’ve visited.

"I’m going to take home an Eagles t-shirt because we were watching football and baseball all the time on TV," Lamprecht said.

Overall, the two students pronounced themselves very pleased with their time in the United States.

"I miss my parents, but it’s OK because we have so many things to do; there’s no time for thinking of home," Sigmund said. "I think I’m getting more independent from my parents because I’m here alone, and I’m doing this on my own."

About Ephrata Review