Mount Si welcomes German exchange students to Valley

Mount Si welcomes German exchange students to Valley

Students from Osnabrück, Germany visit Snoqualmie as part of an exchange program.

As the lyrics “Und ich flieg’, flieg’ flieg'” from Tim Toupet’s 2009 song, “Fliegerlied” echo over the library speakers, students from Chief Kanim Middle School dance alongside students from exchange from Osnabrück, Germany.

Inside the library, some of 18 eleventh-graders from an urban town in northwest Germany, an hour from the Dutch border, give a presentation on the difference between Germany and the United States.

For these students, many of whom are visiting the United States for the first time, life in the Snoqualmie Valley is a little different from what they know back home.

“Everything is exciting because everything we know comes from cinema,” said Odilo Eisenhut, one of the exchange students. “When we’re here it’s like ‘I saw this on TV.’ Things that aren’t so special are kinda crazy.

Exchange students are here as part of a partnership between Mount Si and their school, Integrierte Gesamtschule. Last summer, members of the German club Mount Si traveled to Osnabrück for two and a half weeks, while Mount Si hosted students from Osnabrück in the United States about two weeks ago.

Nina Herkt, a teacher traveling with the Osnabrück students, said that after the pandemic she connected to Mount Si on a Facebook dating page to establish an exchange program.

“It’s a great thing,” she said. “Not many schools in our city have an exchange program.”

Marc Krischket, another teacher from Osnabrück, said he was blown away by the nature of the valley, including the Meadowbrook elk. In Germany, he said, students start learning English in the third grade, which allows them to understand and experience the lessons.

“We are happy to see them in class,” he said. “They can see what an American high school is really like.”

Conor Wilson / Valley Record. Students from Chief Kanim Middle School dance during a presentation by German exchange students.

So far, students have spent time in Seattle, marveling at its skyscrapers and visiting art museums and Pike Place Market. They also took a trip over the pass – including a trip to Leavenworth, which Krischket said the students enjoyed.

Mati Siern, another student, said one of his favorite parts of the trip was hiking Rattlesnake Lake.

“Where we come from is just flat land,” he said. “Here you have mountains and it’s quite beautiful.”

The biggest difference, according to the students, was a car-centric transit system that lacked residents taking transit or cycling.

Students also spent time in Mount Si High School classrooms and attended football and volleyball games. They note how different it is from school in Germany, with more students and a greater variety of subjects outside the core classes.

“My favorite class is pottery, and we don’t have that in Germany,” said Julia Ramler.

Leonard Wolch noted that they felt like celebrities walking down the halls, with students always excited to meet them.

“They’re like ‘are you German? Dap me up’ – it’s funny,” he said. “Everyone has been very friendly.”

German exchange students Leonie Knoll (left) and Julia Ramler give a presentation at Chief Kanim Middle School.  Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record

German exchange students Leonie Knoll (left) and Julia Ramler give a presentation at Chief Kanim Middle School. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record

James R. Rhodes