​11/20/2019 - 3:44 PM - Vivian Gehring

In August of 2020, two students from the Prentice School District will be traveling to Zittau, a city in Germany, for a four-week-long foreign exchange program. They will spend these four weeks with a host family who may or may not speak English. Learning the ways and traditions of the way of life in Zittau. Bridgett Hoffman and Lydia Holm are the two Prentice High School students who were chosen to go to Zittau, the last step being for the school board to approve of the decision. Hoffman, noted, “My feelings are mixed, but I am very excited to experience and see new things. Although I am a little bit nervous about being by myself.”

On October 14th, two students from Zittau, traveled to the small town of Prentice bringing August Friedrich, a former exchange student's, dream to life. August was a foreign exchange student for the whole year in 2013 from Zittau. Heather Mayer a friend of Friedrich and the History teacher at Prentice High School stated that, “he saw what we have to offer and wanted others from his home town to experience it as well.” The ZiPP program which stands for Zittau Prentice Program was made possible by Friedrich, who had to jump through many hoops and red tape to make this foreign exchange program possible. “The original German plan,” Mayer states, “was to send ten students from Germany and have ten students from Prentice go over to Germany, and considering out small school we would be missing most of the students, so we would have had to include another local school to make up the numbers.” Friedrich only wanted to involve the Prentice School District, so they came to the solution that two students would travel to Germany and two would travel to Prentice. This solution was brought to the Prentice School Board who agreed, along with the German school's administration who also agreed and the plan was set into motion. 

The ZiPP program, according to the packet that was given to students interested in the program, is used to help students experience an exchange independent of their parent's income. This program gives students a lasting experience, that not only strengthens the cultural exchange between the United States and Germany but supports students who are active members of their community to experience something greater in the world. This program is not for high school seniors, but for students who will be able to bring back their experiences and share with the school for at least one more full year. The program for the Prentice side includes both attendance at Christian Weise Prep School and living with a host family. The round trip airfare along with spending money, insurance, and passport will not be included and the students must work to raise money for such items. The requirements for this program are that the students chosen must be an active community member, interested in different cultures, 14 or older, and have good English speaking skills. The students who are interested, fill out an application, which includes having a two-page paper that the applicant must write about themselves, and why they want to have this experience. They are also taken into a private room and interviewed by the principal, a school board member, and two teachers to determine who out of the applicants will be going to Germany. Hoffman described the process as, “It wasn’t that hard, but it wasn’t that easy.” Although the foreign exchange program is for students to be independent learning about the culture and life in another country, the students will be in contact with a program leader as a contact person. The students as they go to another country are prohibited from drinking alcohol and doing drugs, and must follow local laws.  The student could be dismissed from the exchange program at their guardian's expense if such action against the rules occurs. Germany follows the same rules.

Zittau students interested in the ZiPP program completed an application and and interview that took about five hours. Ending with the students Isabel Dyk and Timmo Naumann as the two students chosen to travel to Prentice Wisconsin. The students took about twenty seven hour trip traveling by car from their hometown Zittau to the airport in Dresden.  From there they flew to Zurich, Switzerland. Later hitting the skies to fly to Chicago and then onto Wausau, eventually arriving in Prentice where they met their host families. They both expressed the trip as being exciting. As the days went on. both Naumann and Dyk went through new experiences. Dyk had one of these experiences on her first day of high school in America, “being in this Highschool,” she stated, “is very different compared to my school in Germany.  Choosing new classes is especially a new thing for me.” The foreign exchange students have already done a variety of activities on their stay. They went to Chicago for a weekend experiencing the city life in America. Additionally, they attended a football and a volleyball game. The students also traveled to well-known places near Prentice such as Tim’s Hill and Big Falls. During their school hours, they took part in community service with the rest of the student body and went on a few field trips. All in all, what the students felt that what they most enjoyed was the people. Naumann and Dyk headed back to Zittau on the ninth of November with several new friends sad to see them go. 

Melissa Pilgrim, the principal at Prentice High School, noted:. “We will continue to do this exchange program with Germany and are always open to exchange students from around the world to come to Prentice.” Pilgrim stated, “We will continue to ask families in the school and community to volunteer to become a host families in the future to help continue the program.”