Minnetonka High School International Studies and Exchange is an independent study course for students in grades 10-12. Students establish relationships with “correspondents” in their respective country and gain cross-cultural, interpersonal skills that contribute to success in today’s global world.
The program partners with the Wichern Schule in Hamburg, Germany. The partnership has been in place for seven years and neither school has missed the annual opportunity to send students abroad.
During their June exchange trip, 18 Minnetonka students toured the American Consulate in Hamburg and met Consul General Richard Yoneoka. He and his staff are dedicated to promoting international exchanges and cultural understanding among youth.
Yoneoka shared the history of the U.S. Consulate, which was established in 1790, his background and his role as an international diplomat. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and, later, met with two students from the Wichern Schule who sit on a youth council that meets monthly with Yoneoka at the consulate. Minnetonka students discussed international perspectives and cultural differences, common concerns and varying viewpoints from a Generation Z point of view.
“I was really proud of our group,” said Gwynneth Wacker, Minnetonka High School biology teacher and instructor for International Studies Germany and Norway. “Our students asked many good, well-thought questions and were really motivated to learn more about career options in international relations.”
During their stay in Germany, students were immersed in the German language and culture through home stays, school visits, tours, field trips to Bremen and Luneberg, and other points of interest.
In the program, students establish a relationship with one student in either China, Russia, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, India, Netherlands, Spain, Norway or Greece and then complete specific assignments with their correspondent throughout the year.
These assignments require comparison of cultures, school systems, economies, challenges facing their nations and personal family history. Students communicate with their international partner about one to three times a week using Skype, e-mail and Facebook; and attend class twice a month during zero hour. The program contains the potential to travel abroad and to host a foreign student.
Compiled by Paige Kieffer. Follow Paige Kieffer on Facebook at facebook.com/mnsunsailor.