MOORESVILLE – Mooresville has had a sister city relationship with Hockenheim, Germany, since 2001.
“And the exchange of students between the two (cities’) schools has taken place multiple times over (the) course of years, although it had gone several years without an exchange,” said Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD) Assistant Superintendent Todd Black during the school board’s Aug. 14 meeting.
MGSD decided to “reenergize” the partnership last September, Black said, by inviting a group of high school students from Hockenheim to visit Mooresville.
This summer, the Hockenheim high school – Gaus-Gymnasium – decided to return the favor and invited five Mooresville High School students to visit.
Four of those students and one of their chaperones, Mooresville High School Assistant Principal Yamaro Scott, attended MGSD’s Aug. 14 meeting and made a presentation about what the trip meant to them.
“When I accepted the invitation as a chaperone to go on this trip, I didn’t realize what an amazing group of girls that I was going to travel with,” Scott said.
Scott also praised the board for making the trip possible, as well as MGSD staff like Black and Eric Schwarzenegger.
“And I cannot forget our parents, who were very instrumental in allowing their children to go and providing the resources,” Scott said.
The four students – Emily Hutchby, 16; Hagan Parkman, 16; Hope McNish, 17; and Rebecca Dodge, 18 – each talked briefly about how the trip affected them.
Hutchby said her experience was “wonderful.”
“When we first walked into the school, it was very bright and colorful and just ecstatic,” Hutchby said. “I could see the teenagers, how they were really excited to learn.”
Hutchby also said she bonded with her host family and is planning to visit them soon.
“And we should definitely add on to this and have some more kids come over and join us in Mooresville and have us go back to Hockenheim,” Hutchby said. “I think this experience really changed me as a person, and I’d really like to see this program extend in our future.”
Parkman said she is also hoping to return to Hockenheim and see her host family again.
“We all got to bond a lot,” Parkman said.
Parkman said each of the Mooresville students made presentations to English classes when they were visiting Gaus-Gymnasium.
“They asked us a lot of questions about (our schools), and we had the opportunity to learn about what their school was like and the stereotypes that they thought about us,” Parkman said.
The school presentations were a big part of the trip for Dodge, who is planning to study teaching when she attends college this year.
“So being able to do this and see how school works in Germany was really interesting and really cool for me,” Dodge said.
She also said she enjoyed the “immersive” nature of the trip.
“I know no German at all, so sitting in a German household and German classrooms was very different for me, and it was a very, very cool experience,” Dodge said.
On the other hand, McNish lived in Germany when she was younger and said she spoke mostly German with her host family.
“But this was an entirely different experience for me because I had never really immersed myself in German society,” McNish said. “With their family … they took me to places that I had seen when I was younger but didn’t experience fully.”
McNish was most surprised by the number of transit options in Hockenheim.
“Their bike racks seemed endless,” she said. “There were so many bikes. And that’s one of the things I loved about Germany. You can get anywhere on foot.”
The board had no discussion and took no action after the presentation.
During his remarks, Black said he’d heard “wonderful things from multiple people about the professionalism and class” the students exhibited during the trip.