There is no place like Home
A group of 23 exchange students returned from Germany in January after a ten-week stay with their host families. The group was welcomed back and treated to a reception hosted at the new Goethe Institut last week by the German Ambassador, HE Christian Schlaga.
“My German guest family is really nice and friendly, they have become my second family. I already look forward to the visit by my guest sister, who will come to Namibia in June” was the excited response from one of the exchange students.
The Association of German School Societites (AGDS), in partnership with the Association for German Cultural Relations Abroad (VDA), has been organising a ten-to-twelve-week stay for Namibian youth in Germany for many years. The 23 students, all of them ambitious learners of the German language at school, were accommodated in German families and attended their partner children´s schools for the duration of their stay.
The exchange programme employs a quid pro quo principle. A Namibian learner stays with a German family for the duration of the visit and later, a child from this same family comes to Namibia and stays with the local host family.
The invitation to the Goethe Institut was used by the students to recount and exchange their views and experiences. Ambassador Schlaga was very impressed by the good German language skills of the young ambassadors saying he is satisfied with the success of the exchange programme.
“This multi-week exchange probably provides the best opportunity for the young people to intensively occupy themselves with the German language while at the same time experience daily life in Germany. They form new friendships and thus make an important contribution to the German-Namibian friendship. With their acquired German language skills many of the youths will be able to complete one of the official German language certificates (for example DSD), and later perhaps study in Germany.”
Ramona Hälbich from the Otjiwarongo Secondary School also enthusiastically reported about her stay in Germany: “I can advise everybody to take part in a student exchange. It is a unique experience you will remember fondly for the rest of your life.”
The student exchange has been financially and logistically supported by the German Embassy for many years.
For this year’s exchange, the embassy provided N$80,000 to help cover costs for those families who find it difficult to carry all expenses for the protracted overseas stay.