Thirteen (lucky!) students set off from Birmingham airport to be with their German exchange partners for a whole week. This year it was a very special occasion because it was the 10th anniversary of the student exchange between the Royal Latin School and the Julius Stursberg Gymnasium in Neukirchen-Vluyn. It all started under the auspices of the legendary Mr Ponikiewski (Head of German at the time) in 2008. The arrangement has withstood changes in staff and the looming up of Brexit, and indeed has become an ever closer and cordial cooperation between the two schools.
To mark the occasion, we were welcomed at the town hall in Neukirchen-Vluyn by the town’s mayor, Herr Harald Lenven, who expressed his pleasure at the long-lasting relationship between the schools, a further link between the towns of Neukirchen-Vluyn and Buckingham. The local press were present and a copy of the article appeared the following day, complete with pictures of the signing of the town’s official guest book.
The trip included all the usual attractions of this annual event, such as our annual visits to numerous Christmas markets. A visit to the Rhine Tower in Düsseldorf afforded views from an impressive elevation of 170 metres of a similar tower that stand in the city of Cologne nearly 50 km, as well as das ‘Siebengebirge’ mountain range some 75 km away, near Bonn. Fonty’s University of Applied Science in Venlo, in the Netherlands extended an invitation to us again this year to take part in two different workshops and a tour of the campus. This was followed by an afternoon of shopping in the picturesque Dutch town of Venlo. As a group, we also enjoyed an afternoon of bowling and a private guided tour of the local museum where we heard about the history of the former mining town. On the final evening at the traditional farewell ‘Schnitzel’ dinner Ioan from Year 10 thanked our German hosts on behalf of all of us.
Roz Box, Lead Teacher of German at RLS, said, “The group was particularly well behaved and an absolute pleasure to be with. The students represented their home town and school extremely well, whilst enjoying themselves with their German partners. It is wonderful that the link between our two schools continues to thrive and so reassuring to know that our young people in both schools are able to make such great friendships, often lasting well beyond their school years’.