Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell welcomed German exchange students to the Gem City April 16 during a morning reception at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School as part of an annual youth exchange program sponsored by the Dayton Sister Cities Committee.
Nineteen high school students hailing from Germany’s Jakob-Fugger Gymansium gathered with their hosts from CJ in the library to share breakfast and exchange gifts before spending the day shadowing their American counterparts in the classroom.
Leitzell, who grew up attending schools in England, spoke from experience as he urged students from both countries to take advantage of their international encounter.
“Some of the relationships you’re going to develop here will last for a lifetime,” Leitzell told the teenagers. The mayor was joined at the 9 a.m. reception by city officials Matt Joseph, commissioner, and Kelly Geers, director of government programs for the Dayton Development Coalition and an active member of the Dayton Sister Cities Committee.
“The world has become increasingly smaller,” said Geers, “but there’s no replacement for that face-to-face interaction, sharing a meal together, and making those connections.”
As part of the group’s 10-day visit to Ohio, which concludes April 20, German students and Dayton families are spending time together visiting local landmarks and schools. Hosts also shared America’s pastime with guests, attending the Dayton Dragons game on April 11 at Fifth Third Field. Before their departure, German students will share one last meal with CJ students at a backyard farewell cookout.
This year’s activities were coordinated in part by Dayton Sister Cities Committee member and CJ social studies teacher Tony Ricciuto, who served as MC at Monday’s reception. He worked with Jakob-Fugger faculty members Sabine Keller and Wolfgang Burkhart (pictured above) to organize the exchange.
“I can’t thank Dayton Sister Cities enough for making this incredible cultural enrichment experience available to members of the Chaminade Julienne community,” Ricciuto said. He has been involved with the Augsburg-Dayton exchange each of the last four years.
“We are blessed to be able to provide this unique educational opportunity connecting students on a global level. The goal of this exchange program aligns well with the teachings of the Marianists and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur that we try to instill.
“I am thrilled to welcome back a new group from Jakob-Fugger this April, and equally as excited to make our return exchange trip back to Augsburg again in 2013,” Ricciuto said.
According to www.daytonsistercities.org, youth exchanges between students and families from each sister city has been taking place for 35 years. Augsburg and Dayton will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their relationship in 2014. The two first became sister cities in 1964.