Metamora GAPP Exchange
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GAPP is an acronym for German American Partnership Program. It is an exchange program with Germany in which Metamora High School has participated since 1983. We used to exchange every year. We now exchange every other year. 2012 was the last exchange year. The basic premise of the program is a straight one for one exchange. In the spring a group of students from our partner school (Gymnasium Zum Altenforst in Troisdorf, Germany) accompanied by one of the teachers from their school comes for a three-week stay in Metamora.
The students live in the home of their American partners and attend school. The chaperon stays with me, Mr. Bachfischer. During their stay, we take them on a few excursions, normally including trips to Chicago and St. Louis. Depending on their schedule, they usually travel on their own when their stay in Metamora is over. In the summer, our reciprocal visit follows very much the same pattern. We try to leave for Germany as soon as possible after the end of the school year. We usually spend three weeks in Troisdorf, a city of 60,000, approximately fifteen miles from Cologne (1,1000,000) and approximately the same distance from Bonn (350,000). Each of our students lives in the home of the student he or she hosted. During our three-week stay we attend school with our partners (they are still in session). Just as we will have done for them during their stay in Metamora, our German partners take us on a few excursions. We also take some excursions on our own. When our stay in Troisdorf is over, we travel. In 2012 we stayed four weeks in Troisdorf and took six day trips as a group.
So far we have had much success and no serious problems. This is due in no small measure to the continuity and relationships that are a natural consequence of having the same partner school over many years. That is why it is important that we continue to have the exchanges on our regularly scheduled basis. Over the years, approximately 225 of our students have participated in the exchange. Almost all would say theirs was a successful and memorable experience. As a result of the popularity of social networking most former participants maintain contact with their partners long after the exchange is over. Many have developed life-long friendships with further reciprocal visits of not just the students, but of other family members as well.
It is not possible to determine an exact cost of the exchange. This depends on a number of variables. Among them are the exchange rate, the places we go during our week of travel, and the number of students we have participating. The exchange has always cost significantly under $2,000. In fact, the cost of the 2012 exchange was under $1,400 – well under half the cost of any other overseas trip offered at the high school. This amount covers all travel and admission expenses associated with any of the excursions taken with the group during the Germans’ stay in Illinois. It also covers virtually all expenses when the students are with me in Germany. This includes airfare, travel between cities (and other destinations), as well as travel within cities, i.e.., subways, trams, busses. It covers all admissions (to museums, castles, etc.) and the cost of any tour we may go on. It has also covers all lodging expenses (which always includes breakfast). Remember, most of the meals are eaten with the families in Troisdorf. The quoted amount does not include any souvenirs or personal expenses in Troisdorf.
Any student who is at least a sophomore and has had at least one year of German may be considered for the exchange. If you are interested in participating, please let Mr. Bachfischer know. Once we know how many students will be participating, we begin making arrangements with the Germans. Ideally, this is done early in the fall. Thus far they have always had more students interested than we have. (In fact, we often have families host a German student for their three-week stay even though son or daughter will not be joining us in Germany.) Sometime in the winter they send us a list of their students along with biographical information (interests, etc.). That information is used to match their students up with ours. That leaves several weeks to establish contact between partners before the Germans arrive for their stay.
If you have any questions, contact Mr. Bachfischer by phone or email.