This year, from October 6th to October 28th, 25 11th and 12th graders had the chance to go to Austin, Big Bend and New York City again! In preparation for the trip, we had several meetings, in which we worked on presentations about specific topics connected with Texas, Texmex food, music and history.
We started our trip in Austin, where we stayed there for about a week and spent time with our host families or in classes at our host school LASA (Liberal Arts and Science Academy). We were able to participate actively especially in German lessons by giving presentations on German food, night life, various historical events etc. Delivering these presentations we had a lot of fun, because we could teach our exchange partners a little bit about Germany. We also went on day trips to explore the University of Texas, the Blanton Museum, the drag, Barton Springs and the Capitol. As we were given a lot of free time we were able to do many activities with our host families and learned a lot about American life in Texas.
After our stay in Austin, we went camping in Big Bend National Park, where we spent 5 days. In the mornings we mostly hiked through the spectacular landscape and in the afternoon we started preparing the meals which we then cooked and ate together. Additionally, we also visited the ghost town Terlingua and got to know some local people who had moved there because they had decided to live at a slower pace in this beautiful remote city at the fringe of Big Bend. We could also learn something about Terlingua’s history by visiting the cemetery and doing a little tour around some historical buildings. After these great experiences, we went back “home” to Austin and spent another few days there.
The last stop was New York City where we spent our last 4 days. We visited the Top of the Rocks in the Rockefeller Center from where we had an awesome view over Manhattan in all directions. We also went to the 9/11 Memorial which consists of huge waterfalls at the exact location of the former World Trade Center. We got the chance to see a Broadway musical “Come from away” about the experiences of people in Gander, Newfoundland, who hosted traumatized passengers from flights that had been diverted and had to stop over in Gander due to the 9/11 terror attacks. Brooklyn with its beautiful bridge and a ferry trip to Staten Island, from where we saw the Statue of Liberty, were also part of our program.
All in all, the trip was really great as we were able to get a lot of different impressions of diversity in the USA. We also learned a lot about the culture and the life of typical American teenagers. Most importantly, we had the opportunity to make a lot of new friends, too! The whole trip was an experience that we will never forget: a once in a lifetime adventure!