While most students only get the opportunity to study a foreign language in the classroom, Chamblee’s German program offers three summer exchanges, two of which allow Chamblee students to attend German school and experience German culture, while the other exchange places students in internships with German companies and agencies.
The internship program began last year when Chamblee sent several rising seniors to Essen, Germany to work for two weeks.
“Herr Neuhaus is partnered with a school in Essen and they set up families to host us and we live with them for two weeks,” said senior Brynn Lautenbacher, who participated in the program this year. “The teacher in Germany finds different internships throughout Essen and Dusseldorf for us to go work at.”
Lautenbacher was working at a Cardiology Center where she got to shadow one of the doctors every day. She learned how to do an Echocardiogram and she observed the doctor draw blood and take blood pressure.
“We were in the hospital one day and I got to watch my boss do a few heart catheters,” said Lautenbacher.
Although Lautenbacher does not want to work in the field of cardiology in the future, she is grateful that she got the chance to improve her German.
“I grew much more confident [speaking German] because when you have to wake up at six in the morning and start speaking German to somebody, it makes you feel a lot more sure about yourself,” said Lautenbacher.
She is currently planning to study German in college and would like to study her junior year abroad.
Unlike Lautenbacher, who was in Germany for her third time, it was senior Ben Lang’s first visit to the country.
“It was really interesting because in America, there are a lot of cars and the streets aren’t very friendly to pedestrians, but in Germany it was a lot different because I was able to walk a lot and bike around a lot,” said Lang.
Lang worked at a tax company, where he would fill out tax forms and worked with auditors and accountants.
“One day I actually got to do a client call,” said Lang. “We drove about an hour away to do this client’s audit and it was really interesting to interact with the client.”
Lang also appreciated the fact that he was only allowed to speak German for the entire day.
“Since you were talking with a lot of people, it really helped practice and improve your German,” said Lang.
Senior Thomas Fennel learned about the internship program through his friends who were planning on participating in the program. Originally, Neuhaus had informed Fennel that there were no more spaces available.
“Later on, he told me that there was a space open and I was thrilled, but then he told me that there were no more spaces available,” said Fennel. “Then about three weeks before the internship, he told me that there was a space for me.”
Fennel ended up interning at Vodafone, a telecommunications company in Germany.
“I was with a lot of tech geeks, so it was hard for me to get acclimated because I didn’t know how to code or anything and that was the main component of the company, but I really learned a lot about computers and I helped with translations,” said Fennel.
In addition to spending the two weeks in Essen with his host family, Fennel got the chance to travel for an additional week in Germany with senior Caroline Kim.
“We actually went to Cologne and stayed in Frau Elias’s [a German student teacher at Chamblee last year] apartment,” said Fennel. “We also went to Stuttgart to visit some of Caroline’s family.”
Fennel believes that those three weeks in Germany have significantly improved his German.
“Just being in Germany and speaking it every day, especially with my host family,” said Fennel. “I basically spoke it 24/7 and I learned a lot of colloquialisms and slang.”
Like, Lautenbacher and Lang, Fennel plans to study German in college and definitely wants to participate in a study abroad program or even attend college in Germany.
“Every day, I’m like ‘Man, I really miss Germany so much.’ I want to go back and study there in college,” said Fennel.
The consensus after this exchange program from all of the students who participated was that it was a success.
“I would tell anybody that if they had an experience or an opportunity like this to make the most out of it because I will always be happy that I did and it was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Fennel.