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LHS Students Unite With German Students

Dec. 16, 2021

St. Louis has celebrated over 60 years of being the sister city to Stuttgart, a city located in southwest Germany, and Lindbergh High School students are now involved more than ever in the international relationship between the two cities. Students in the LHS German program collaborated with students from a school in Stuttgart for a video about each country, and an LHS senior is participating in a German-American Sister City forum.

Video Collaboration

Eight Students from the LHS AP/IB German 5 class were invited to participate in a video project hosted by the German-American Center (Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum DAZ) in Stuttgart in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the "Speech of Hope." This was a speech originally given by James F. Byrnes, the United States Secretary of State, in Stuttgart on Sept. 6, 1946. It set the tone for U.S. Policy after World War II with a message of a change to a policy of economic reconstruction, which gave the Germans hope for the future. 

LHS students answered the question, "What fascinates us about each other?" and represented the American perspective. In addition, students from the Geschwister-Scholl Gymnasium, Lindbergh’s partner school, who visited St. Louis in 2019, spoke about their experiences in America. The video was viewed by many dignitaries from both countries, including the Ambassador of the United States and the Ministerpräsident of the State of Baden-Württemberg.

The eight LHS students who participated in the video included Ashley Dickey, David Fletcher, Adelaide Goss, Luke Morrow, Mitchell Oldham, Joseph Slane, Melisa Velic and Romy Vivrett.

“The specific topic that I had was essen, which means food in German,” Oldham said.  “I think that German food is a lot different from American cuisine, which I found interesting.”

Morrow had music as his topic.

“A lot of the most well-known music from around the world comes from Germany, such as Beethoven and Bach; that classical type of music,” Morrow said.

“I think it was a great opportunity for the students to have a real-world application and audience to use their German,” LHS German teacher Brian Jacob said. “Being in landlocked St. Louis, students don’t always get the chance to speak German. Having actual German citizens listen to them speak their language brings a whole new level to their learning and motivation.”

Both Oldham and Morrow agree.

“The most interesting part was seeing what they thought of us and hearing their ability to speak English,” Oldham said. “It was nice to have  that international camaraderie with a country that’s very far away, and I enjoyed being able to compare our cultures.”

Oldham and Murrow will visit Stuttgart this summer with other members of the LHS German program. It was one of the many reasons they both took an interest in speaking German.

“These types of opportunities are why language teachers become language teachers,” Jacob said. “We aren’t doing it just for the classroom. It hopefully sparks a deeper interest in our students and lets them find a real-world application. It’s great that we have this connection to another city.”

Youth Forum Conversations

In addition, LHS senior Alexia Nastasia participated in the German-American Sister Cities Youth Forum, a virtual exchange designed to engage young civic leaders ages 14 to 21 in Germany and the U.S. in a transatlantic dialogue about issues confronting their local communities.

“Over the summer, we made a list of all of the goals that we wanted to touch on and we landed on the topics of diversity and the environment,” Nastasia said. “We wanted to elaborate on them and how they relate to our communities. We wanted to discuss how we could improve our community in regards to those subjects.”

Nastasia is one of four high school students who are part of the advisory board, which is helping the Youth Leadership St. Louis participants. She wants to major in International Studies in college and looks for leadership opportunities related to this area of interest. Her involvement with FOCUS St. Louis, a regional leadership organization, led to her joining the German-American Sister Cities Youth Forum. 

The St. Louis students have met with German students in Zoom meetings.

“I remember one of the times we were discussing environmental issues in our countries and cities, and I think the German students feel a lot more empowered,” Nastasia said. “They have very involved mayors that work with the students who want to improve the conditions of the climate. Here, people felt a little less involved with the people at the top.”

Discussions were held about environmental issues on a local level.

“A lot of times, the German students were focused and more hopeful on working on smaller measures like taking shorter showers, or biking to work and improving recycling,” Nastasia said. “In St. Louis, we were looking for more radical changes involving laws and policy.”

The forum meets monthly and finishes in the summer.