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St. Louis 1985/2002

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Second student exchange program between Kardinal-von-Galen Gymnasium in Muenster-Hiltrup and Bishop DuBourg Highschool in St. Louis, Missouri, USA (March 20 - April 18, 1985)

During my time as a student at the Kardinal-von-Galen Gymnasium ("KvG") in Muenster-Hiltrup my school has offered some students and me the opportunity to take part at a student exchange program with its partner school in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

At first I was a little bit undecided whether to go or not. I've never been travelling by airplane before, and I've never been so far away from home on my own (I was 16 years old at this time). But I thought that this might be an unique opportunity to learn more about people from other countries and culture, and so I decided to take part at this exchange program.

I didn't know much about my host-family in advance. Only that: My host student should be Carl Vonder Haar, and the other members of the family were Don and Carnetta (parents) and Carl's brothers and sister Kenneth, Francis, Daniel, Gary and Mary Beth.

Before our departure our teacher told us that it might be a little bit difficult to understand our host-family because there would be a difference in our school English and the spoken American English in St. Louis. So I was very expectant and a little bit nervous about the things to come.

On March 20,1985 we were on our way to St. Louis. The departure was from Frankfurt International Airport to JFK International Airport in New York. From JFK we took a flight to Lambert, St. Louis International Airport. Unfortunately there was no good weather in NYC, so we only could see the hazy skyline of NYC. There was no time for us to leave the airport and so we didn't see anything from NYC.

I was very lucky with my host-family. Everyone was very friendly and kind. It also was very good that I was able to spend most of the time with a member of the Vonder Haar family and less with the German students. Because of that I had the chance to practise my English.

Carl took me along to his school - Bishop DuBourg High-School - for some days. It was very interesting to see the differences between a High School in the US and my school in Germany, especially the large number of students and the size of the building. I also had the opportunity to go with Dan to his school for one day at the end of my visit in St. Louis (as far as I can remember the school's name was Prep. South).

The sightseeing program began 3 days after our arrival in St. Louis. On our first sightseeing-day we have visited the impressive Gateway Arch, which represent the gate to the west. We have also seen the Old Cathedral, Laclede's Landing and the Old Spaghetti Factory.

At one of the next days we've visited the New Cathedral, also an impressive building.

Below you can see the program which was organised for us. I'm sorry that I can't write something to every point of the program, this would last too long.

(Our program organized by DuBourg and our host families)

We also have visited Meramec Caverns, which is said to be Jesse James' hideout.

(Meramec caverns, March 30, 1985)

On our way to the different sightseeing points I've seen the beautiful surrounding area of St. Louis.
Other places which we have visited were:

  • Jefferson City
  • Springfield
  • Cahokia Mounds
  • New Salem
  • Abraham Lincoln's home and Tomb
  • St. Louis Zoo and Art Museum and a
  • baseball-game of the St. Louis Cardinals

But the most interesting thing was being together with my host family.

I was invited to a birthday of one of Carl's friends, we went to a bowling hall, Dan took me along to an ice-hockey game of the St. Louis Blues and to a Corvette trader (Dan was a Corvette fan). Also Don let me drive his tractor (it was the first time I've ever driven a motorized vehicle in my life. I wonder if Don was afraid of his greenhouse... ).

(Don's tractor)

On Easter Sunday we went to a family meeting of the Vonder Haars'. I still don't know how many people we were at this day, but I would guess there were roundabout 30 people. I think it was in New Hamburg, south of St. Louis. It was really a nice meeting. We've played some Softball, also the first time in my life. It isn't an easy game to play, but it made a lot of fun.

On April 17, 1985 we had to go back to Germany. I really had a good time with the Vonder Haar family, and I was and still I am very thankful to the Vonder Haar family, Bishop DuBourg High School, my school in Muenster and to my parents that they have offered me the opportunity to visit St. Louis and to meet the people there.

Again we had to change planes at JFK in New York. When we left JFK it was dark outside, and there were no clouds in the sky. So we had the chance to see New York City illuminated. It was really a great view out of the window of our plane...

After we have arrived in Germany on April 181985 I wanted to buy my mother some flowers because it was her birthday. When I got my exchange back from the shop-assistant I thought that he had given me back too less money. So I started to speak to him about my claim, but he didn't understand me...
..until I realized that I've spoken to him in English...

Vonder Haars' asked me to come back and to spend some time at High School. I didn't took the chance for several reasons (girl-friend, friends etc.). Today I only can advise everyone who has the chance to take part in an exchange program or to go to High-School there: do it and take part, especially if you are so lucky and you have such a kind host-family like the Vonder Haars'.

Now, many years after my visit to St. Louis, and the knowledge of the things which have happened in the world during the last years, I think that it is very important that people meet and get to know each other, everywhere in the world. If people would know each other better life would be much easier and more peaceful. And this student exchange program was a good possibilty to get to know other people.

Dear Vonder Haar family: if someone of your family will ever be in Germany please let me know about it. You are always welcome and invited here at Anke's and my home in Steinfurt, Germany...

(Article in our newspaper - "Westfaelische Nachrichten" from 1985)

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