Thanks to a continuing partnership between CJ and the Dayton Sister City Committee, a small group of students were able to travel to Germany and stay with host families in the city of Augsburg -- a Dayton Sister City since 1964. Students were chaperoned by Tony Ricciuto, a CJ social studies teacher, his wife Brenda Ricciuto, a science teacher at Mother Brunner Catholic School, and Cordell Williams, a legislative aide for the City of Dayton.
Exchange participant Maggie Mochty ‘14 detailed her experience living and celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime occasion with a German host family.
"Experiencing life in another country can be a bit intimidating. Fifteen American students and three adults accepted this challenge and traveled to Augsburg, Germany. This two week special experience is not something everybody will encounter, but if you ever get the chance, take advantage of it. My unique experience helped shape my understanding of culture and influenced my career path, worldviews and self confidence. The trip also helped me understand the significance of the Dayton Sister City partnership with not only Chaminade Julienne, but also with countries around the world. We were honored to have the leadership and dedication of Mr. and Mrs. Ricciuto (CJ) and their friendship with Mr. Wolfgang Burkhart and Mrs. Sabine Keller (Jakob Fugger Gymnasium). The student exchange would not be possible without their hard work and commitment to keep this cross-cultural global experience alive!"
According to the committee’s Web site, the purpose of the Youth Exchange program is to provide students with an opportunity to genuinely experience another culture, its people, and its customs. The cultural immersion allows young people to develop relationships and connections they may otherwise not be able to make.
"My experience in Germany will forever be close to my heart. I not only explored the country’s culture, but also lived life as a German teenager. Personally, my host family gave me the opportunity to coach a group of 14-year-old boys in basketball, attend a traditional teen German birthday party, hike the Alps and the biggest mountain in Germany, bake a raspberry cake for a friend, water ski on a local lake, and ride a motor scooter to and from school each day. To put the icing on the cake, I got to spend my 18th birthday in another country with an amazing family and new friends. I woke up on my birthday to a German cake on the breakfast table, princess cookies, and a big package that said, 'Do not open until you get home to America.' My gift included a German soccer jersey, flag, scarves, Augsburg t-shirts and a bag, plus chocolates and lemon flavored German chewing gum."
CJ students stayed with the families of teenagers enrolled at Jakob Fugger Gymnasium, a German secondary school comprised of approximately 800 students. Families followed their own routines and schedules, making each student’s experience a little different. Together, the group attended school and visited local landmarks.
"The school and our host families kept us all busy and on our feet. Some of the common activities that all of us Americans experienced together were tours around Augsburg, sightseeing trips to Munich and Landsberg, a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, a gift exchange at the Augsburg Town Hall, and an opportunity to meet the 'King of Augsburg.' "
During the trip, the group from CJ also got to meet a 1963 graduate of Chaminade who was part of the first ever Dayton exchange trip to Augsburg nearly 50 years ago (read more about this in the 2013 Annual Report). The exchange concluded with a farewell barbecue cookout.
"Thanks to the Dayton Sister Cities and the coordination between both schools, bringing an exchange student into another country can have lasting benefits for a school and its community. We’ve had the opportunity to learn about new cultures, languages and traditions, and gained many new friendships. The host families' hospitality and generosity was a memorable experience I'll cherish forever. Leaving the beautiful country of Germany, all 18 of us left behind family, but came home with a heart full of gratitude, thanks and most importantly memories we will never forget."
Next year students from Augsburg, Germany will visit Dayton and stay with host families.