Sixteen students from Germany are immersing themselves in American culture as part of Rock Island High School’s German-American Partnership Program (GAPP).

A group of German students is spending two and a half weeks at Rock Island High School. They are pictured with Rocky students and staff.

Rocky is one of only two Quad-City high schools that offer a German exchange program (Bettendorf is the other). Due to COVID, this is the first group of German students since 2018 that have been able to come to Rock Island High School, according to a school district release.

The primary goal of GAPP is to integrate students into everyday life with host families and into the classroom activities of host schools to foster an understanding of both German and American cultures.

Rocky is just one of two Quad-Cities high schools to participate in the German American Partnership Program; the other is Bettendorf High School.

RIHS students had the opportunity to visit the city of Rottenburg am Neckar in June and now the German students are here in Rock Island visiting. This past summer, seven Rocky students went to Germany for three weeks, at their own expense. 

Each of the German students have been paired with a student from RIHS to follow around and attend their classes. They stay with host families from people in the Rock Island/Milan community. German students are accompanied by two of their own teachers from Germany, and work on homework from their own classes while they are here. 

While the German exchange students will get the feel of American culture at school, they will also get to experience the U.S. outside of the classroom. Students will get to go to local businesses as well as take trips to museums and other exhibits. 

The program isn’t just about German students learning about America but also for our students and staff to learn from them as well. German students have prepared presentations on various topics relating to their daily lives and their hometown they will give to classes. 

RIHS German teacher Nick Eli coordinates the exchange program and says it is about more than just a trip.

“What I really think exchange means to me is that exchange of ideas, experiences, friendships, common interests, and cultural differences,” Eli said in the district release.

The German students will go back home on Nov. 2nd.