There have been lot of times that my friends’ children have stayed with us but it is for the first time that we had a child from another country with different language, culture and of course taste, stay as a family member for a fortnight. The entire experience of hosting an adolescent child from a completely alien setup was an interesting and enlightening one. Our german guest child Val is disciplined, amiable frank , courteous , adjusting and inquisitive. He was interested in knowing our way of life and adventurous enough to taste variety of Indian dishes and of course logic behind doing certain things the way we do !!!
15 days passed very smoothly and it was indeed great to have him stay with us. We had our apprehensions around our ability to be a good host in accordance with the traditions of Indian culture of treating ‘guest equivalent to God’; but I am happy to say that Val is a nice person and cooperated all the way of being a wonderful guest and has indeed become part of our family for life!
Here, I sincerely compliment the stellar work done by the teachers in managing the exchange program intricacies meticulously. Partner selections were near to perfect as their interests matched and there is not a single dull moment – the theme of sports added lot of energy and action to the entire program. Continuous guidance from organising teachers in managing multi-faceted activities, programs and excursions was a big comfort for us and gave a sense of assurance around children getting holistic benefit from program and developing into a responsible and learned global citizen.
If you think the teachers are the most important people, you are wrong. The students aren’t either. But the parents of our guests and our hosts are the MVPs the Most Valuable Players in this exchange program.
They give consent to the that exchange, pay for the tickets, open their house for a foreigner and help whenever they can during the 14 day long stay in India and Germany.
That’s why today we had a potluck dinner together with the parents where we not only performed some dances to thank them, but to eat some really exquisite Indian food, which – why should it be different today – the parents themselves prepared for that very occasion.
The official program
The potluck startet with very warm welcoming words from the Indian coordinator Ms Radhika Babbar and the second Indian teacher Ms Ritu Shahar followed by the German coordinator Mr Wolfgang Poeschl and his colleague Ms Christina Wiedemann.
In a short movie clip the parents got a short summary about the trips that had been done during the stay in Germany. A dance performed by students of Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium (Niederbayerischer Ländler) and another one by the Indian participants concluded this official part.
Whoever has ever hosted an exchange student before knows how stressful such a project can be. So, what was it really like to have an Indian in your house?
We asked some of the German parents about their experiences with students of LVIS: “What impressions left the excange project on you or your child?”
Here are some of their answers:
“Die Welt ist sehr verschieden” (The world is very diverse)
“Ein bischen anstrengend, aber es war definitv machbar und eine tolle Zeit, die wir nie bereuen werden!” (A little bit exausting, but definitly possible to manage and it was a great time we will never miss)
“It was a great time because I learnt about India, too. We didn’t have any problems with the exchange partner and we were sad when he left.”
“The culture of the Indian people is very interesting”
“It was interesting to host a foreign teenager from India. Everybody was really friendly and open. It was also nice to get in contact with the Indian parents on skype. We also learned a lot about the Indian cuisine and the indian way of life.”
We are curious about your honest feedback. Have you ever hosted a foreign student? What was it like? Tell us your story in the comment section!
For four days the German and Indian exchange students went to school together, had the opportunity to play Basketball as a whole group or visited the same classes at the Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium. They know each other quite well now. But what about the parents? For sure, they got to know “their” Indian guest. But is he different compared to the others? What adventures could the other host parents tell? Therefore we created a special event to show the parents, what the students do during the project and to create a time and a place where families can meet and chat: The Bavarian Evening!
All the teachers and students and even most of the parents were dressed in the traditional costumes. The entrance of the school was decorated in the colours of the Bavarian flag and dozends of plates and bowls with traditional fresh food was ready to be eaten. Even some studentes that took part in the exchange last year arrived, happy to be part of the exchange family.
The principal of the school Mrs Andrea Kammerer welcomed everybody officially, especially the guests from Lotus Valley International School. This greeting was continued by short speaches of the German and Indian teachers. After a short break (Finaly Food!) the fun part started and all the exchange students performed some dances for the parents. Traditional life musik played by a young Bavarian artist completed the scene.
But the parents had to fullfill their task, too. Invited by the teacher Mr Wolfgang Pöschl they danced a waltz and a “Zwiefacher” (traditional dance) and showed their children how to live the rhythm.
What can I tell you more? The students would just say it was fun! They even got some presents from local companies and most of the boys and girls seized the evening to take some great pictures with their host families.
It is 4:15 am, we are already awake for 1.5 hours and we fought our way out of the warm bedsheets to the cold parking lot of the school. To make it clear, we are none of these overexcited teachers, who want to be first at the copy machine! We are Bavarian exchange teachers, who collect a group of exchange students from the Munich airport!
Today is the day! After an 8 hour lasting direct flight our guests arrive at MUC airport. But it still takes some time till we can welcome them. After the arrival the Indians have to show their visa, passports and their invitation letter to Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium. After that they hopefully will be allowed to enter Europe. The procedure continues whith baggage collect, German customs, last visits of the restrooms and first calls of the Indian parents. Depending on the time and day of the week it can take some hours till a group of young travelers finally arrives at the airport’s lobby. That’s one of many reasons why only two German teachers are waiting to greet the guests from Noida. And who knows, how long they still have to wait?
After the luggage is stored at the coach the students enter the bus in silence (they are tired, too). From time to time you can hear some snippets of conversation, or you can get the idea of the beat of some bollywood musik leaking from some headphones.
But as we get closer to Straubing the students talk more and more. Even the participating teachers ask happily about the school, weather and family issues and …
The conversation stops abruptly as the bus enters the parking lot of the Johannes-Turmair-Gymnasium. Nobody is on their seats any more. Noses are pressed against the windows. The parents and the German students are standing at the corner. Some even wear the traditional Bavarian costumes and wave banners and flags. You hear the warm noise of welcome cheers!
Everybody is leaving the bus, hands are shaken, some try to make a formal bow, suitcases are carried over the place. After some time the parking lot is nearly empty. Only four tired but happy German and Indian teachers stay back, looking forward to get some big breakfast.
The parents are deeply involved in every exchange process. Not only do they pay for the tickets, they invite a foreign teenager to their house and invite him to become a family member. For two weeks they have to take care of one more child.
Is it really worth that work?
Again, we interviewed a mother and a father of the Indian exchange students to get the answers:
The mother of Muskan talks about the exchange with Germany
Thoughts of a father - why should somebody take part in an exchange with Germany