By James Moss on August 29, 2018 at 5:05 pm
Pictured are German and Columbia High School students Serena Jackson, Taylor Ogelsby, Blake Roider, Courtney Hofstetter, Kennedy Jordan, Joey Nichols, Jesse Griffin, Cameron Hutchinson, Amanda Koenigstein, Curtis Crossley, Ellie Hoffman, Sophia Huch, Ruben Martinez Cortes, John Shriver, Brody Davis and Emily Crossley. (submitted photo)
In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower created the Sister Cities International program to foster citizen diplomacy.
“I have long believed, as many before me, that peaceful relations between nations requires understanding and mutual respect between individuals,” the 34th president said. “If only people together, then so eventually will nations.”
More than 50 years later, that mission lives on in Columbia, as the city is partnered with Gedern, Germany.
As part of that partnership, the cities send students to either place, with Columbia students visiting Gedern in even-numbered years and vice versa in odd-numbered years.
This year, 16 Columbia High School students went to Gedern through the German American Partnership Program in June.
Columbia High School German teacher Taylor Nickerson leads the trips. He has been to Germany three times through the exchange program since he started planning the trips in 2011. He did not go this year, however, because his wife had a baby right before the trip.
Hannah Stewart, a Columbia Middle School teacher, chaperoned the trip instead. She was assisted by Andreas Heuser, who has led the German side of the program since it began in 1993.
“It’s been going really well,” Nickerson said of the 25-year partnership.
Nickerson said one focus of the biannual trip is for Columbia students to spend at least 10 days in a German school.
“Really the focus of the exchange is to experience life as a German teenager and to see what a German teenager experiences daily – getting up, going to school, coming home, eating and hanging out with friends,” Nickerson explained. “It’s not a sightseeing trip. It’s not a bus tour. We’re not staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.”
Another core part of the trip is a presentation the students must give in German about some aspect of life in this area.
Read more about the adventures of the Columbia students in Germany in the Aug. 29, 2018, issue of the Republic-Times newspaper.