CISD students head to Germany for month-long trip

Visits to include Braunfels castle


By Richard Zowie

Times Guardian Staff Writer


"Sprechen sie Deutsch?"

"Ein, zwei, drei..."

"Ich bin ein Amerikaner."

"Danke schön."

Twelve Smithson Valley High School German-language students probably did some brushing up on their German as they left June 2 for a month-long trip into Germany.

The students went on the trip with SV German instructor Donna Hickl and are scheduled to return to Comal County June 29. Also going on the trip are one an alumnus of Smithson Valley High and one student from San Antonio Clark High School.

This trip marks the seventh year that Smithson Valley students have been going to Germany, said Hickl. Conversely, German students have been coming to Comal Independent School District for 11 years.

While in Germany, the students will be visiting Braunfels, the namesake of Comal County's most prominent city and will receive a private tour of a castle there. They'll also visit Dachau, Munich, Zugspitze, Neuschwanstein, Trier, Frankfurt and go on a boat ride on the Rhein River.

The program is partially funded through the German American Partnership Program, an exchange program partly sponsored through the German and American governments in conjunction with the Goethe Institute. They also received private funds through the Hochheim Insurance Group and from Sam's Club, said Hickl.

Once the students get to Germany, they will go to school (attending their host student's classes) for two weeks in Denzlingen at the Erasmus Gymnasium. After that, they will live with a German family for two weeks.

"The students always enjoy Braunfels and staying with the families, said Hickl, who has taught Germany for 20 years. Her grandmother spoke German, and she also studied the language in high school and at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University-San Marcos). "Through this trip, I hope students achieve more cultural awareness and a tolerance for other people. I also hope that their German improves."

Hickl added that one common misconception Americans have about German culture is that everyone in Germany wears lederhosen and eats sauerkraut.

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