NASHUA — Next month, 30 students from Germany will be embarking on the experience of a lifetime as they travel to New Hampshire, take in the American culture and live with local families for two weeks.
“This is such an amazing experience for not only the visitors, but for the American hosts as well. It can really be life-changing,” said Lori McIntosh, a guidance counselor at Nashua High School North who is helping to organize this summer’s German Exchange Program.
The program helps to develop ties of international friendship and contact between German and American families and students, according to McIntosh. However, this year the program is still in need of host families to provide housing for at least six of the 30 students and three teachers who will be traveling to Nashua.
About 24 of the teens have already been placed with host families, but a few more hosts are still sought, said Daniel Wells of Alvirne High School, one of the founders of the program.
“We hope to have them all placed by the end of the school year,” said Wells. “The world really is so small, as we have truly become a global community now.”
Many of America’s youth will eventually be conducting business in other countries after they graduate, according to Wells, who said the German teenagers will also be making deals worldwide after entering the work force.
“We are a one-world community, and we need to encourage that,” he said of the exchange program. Because of technology, many of the students participating in the program become lifelong friends and are able to communicate on Facebook and other social networking sites to stay in touch.
The group hailing from Germany attends Carl-Orff Gymnasium, a school located in Unterschleissheim, a suburb of Munich. The German community is well known as the European headquarters for Microsoft, Wells said.
The Germans will be visiting New Hampshire from July 13 to July 31, participating in day trips to Boston, Plymouth Plantation, Hampton Beach, Pawtuckaway State Park, the White Mountains and the Lowell Millyard.
American hosts — especially teens in the host families — are encouraged to attend the trips with their foreign exchange students, but it is not required, said McIntosh. Host families are asked to provide housing, food and daily transportation to the drop-off site each morning.
In return, a group of students from southern New Hampshire will travel to Munich in February 2013 to visit with their former guests.
The German Exchange Program was originated about 15 years ago, and this year is expanding to students beyond Nashua, with at least one teen from Concord and another from Merrimack expected to participate, Wells said.
Anyone interested in hosting a German student is encouraged to contact either Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org, or McIntosh at email@example.com.
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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.