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Published: Monday, 6/16/2014

Bowsher takes to German-exchange program

Toledo teacher celebrating 10th year of travel to country

BY STEPHEN GRUBER-MILLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Bowsher’s Jacob Anderson is one of nine students who will spend four weeks studying abroad and living with German host families. Bowsher’s Jacob Anderson is one of nine students who will spend four weeks studying abroad and living with German host families.
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Nine Bowsher High School students have gone back to school this summer — in Germany.

The students are spending four weeks in Toledo’s sister city, Delmenhorst, where they will live with a host family, attend classes, and immerse themselves in German culture.

“They get a little bit of tourist stuff in, but they’re going to school and they’re living with a host family,” Bowsher German teacher Anthony Dodge said.

Mr. Dodge said students often are more excited about studying German after the program when they open up their textbooks and recognize places they have been. The enthusiasm of past travelers, and of Mr. Dodge, has inspired others to want to travel, as well.

“Dodge is always talking about it, showing us how awesome it’s been,” Jacob Simpson, 17, mentioned as part of the reason he chose to go on the exchange this year.

This year, Bowsher is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its exchange program with Max-Planck-Gymnasium, a college preparatory school in Delmenhorst. More than 100 students have traveled to Germany through the program since its inception in 2004, accompanied by Mr. Dodge and his wife, Joyce. About as many have come to Toledo from Delmenhorst as well.

One of the perks of the program is how it builds friendships, both among the Bowsher students and with their hosts in Germany.

“Even if the students don’t know each other they come together,” Mr. Dodge said.

Bowsher High School teacher Anthony Dodge speaks to students that will be participating in an exchange program to Germany. The students will attend a college preparatory school in Delmenhorst. Bowsher High School teacher Anthony Dodge speaks to students that will be participating in an exchange program to Germany. The students will attend a college preparatory school in Delmenhorst.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Many of the students began interacting early with their German hosts online through social media.

“My partner and I have been talking on Facebook like every day. She’s very friendly,” Hannah Kinney, 17, said.

Mr. Dodge is a relentless fund-raiser and has worked to minimize the program’s costs to students. All the program’s expenses are covered through grants and fund-raising aside from airfare — which is about $1,700 this year — and a special trip outside the program’s usual itinerary. This year the destination was Dresden.

“The principal at the time ... thought I was crazy to do it,” Mr. Dodge said of the program’s beginning, “I said I’ll do it as long as we can make it affordable to working-class kids.”

Also gratifying to Mr. Dodge is how many students go back to Germany in later years to visit their host families, including Nicole Dorfmeyer, 17, who went for the second time this year and plans to meet up with her old host.

“I contacted my old German partner ... and I told her I was coming back and she said, ‘‍Oh yeah, we have to meet up,’ ” she said.

Contact Stephen Gruber-Miller at: smiller@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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