The exchange has been going for 46 straight years without interruption, but the excitement has not diminished one jot: The arrival of the German students from Copernicus Gymnasium in Löningen is cause for celebration at Norfolk Academy.
The proud history of trans-Atlantic friendships forged through the school’s (and quite possibly the nation’s) longest school-to-school exchange partnership was evident in the opening chapel reflection from Mr. Chris Nelson, Upper School German teacher and director of the Chesapeake Bay Fellows. He asked students and teachers to reflect on their close friends and how they had met the people who are in their closest circle.
Mr. Nelson then ticked off all of the places that NA students have traveled—France, Spain, China, Argentina, Germany, and the Dominican Republic. He asked students who have traveled on an NA international program trip to raise their hands, and looking at the sea of hands, he noted the significance of it. “We make it possible for young people not just to see the world, but to get to know other young people in the world,” he said. “That changes everything.”
The students and their hosts took to the stage, and each one gave a short personal introduction, speaking Engliish fluently and confidently from the Johnson Theater stage to share their names and interests. Ms. Sandra Haske, a teacher who is chaperoning the trip for the third time, explained that this is the first trip to the United States for the 15 students. They spent several days in Washington D.C. before arriving in Hampton Roads for an approximately two-week stay.
Norfolk Academy students will travel to Germany in June.