Exchange 2017 – Day 8 & 9 – Family Weekend

The family weekend is always something special. It is a real time to see parts of the country with the host families. Some students will travel to France, Luxembourg, and Austria. The host families put their own spin on the exchange during that weekend. Every student will experience something different and that is the charm of what the program does. It creates a personalized experience and is more than just doing the “tourist” things that other short trips provide. The weekend described here is my experience and if I get some added pieces from the students I will share.

Saturday was a nice day and a chance to get in a good car ride. We started into France towards our goal the Saarland. It is shorter to cut across France to get to this eastern area of Germany. It is the location of the Völklingen Ironworks. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It was a huge example of the Industrial Revolution and an example of the power of industry. The ironworks made the Saarland one of the most profitable places in Germany and had a strong economy. As you look at the pictures below image a huge plant cranking out iron and steel for an entire country. The grand scale of the plant is hard to image and the pictures do not do the site justice. The plant has also been converted to a space for exhibits and is currently hosting an exhibit on the Inca from Peru. It is fascinating to see the artifacts and the work these ancient peoples did with metals. My fear of heights reared it’s ugly head when it came time to go up to observation areas. Thankfully there was an elevator that got me most of the way up. The other exciting understanding was the art exhibit throughout the plant. It is an Urban Art exhibit and highlights urban artists from around the world. Some of the work was historic and some as recent as a few months ago. The art exhibit was a real treat and a great way to use the space.

After walking and wondering around the museum we headed for another special place. We headed to the Cloef to view the Saarschleife. It is one of the most picturesque sights I have ever had the chance to see. It looks over the Saar river and I am sure you will be able to see the beauty from the pictures. But, as with other sights, you must see it in person and experience it for yourself. This is definitely on my places to bring Dawn to when we can get back here. A nice picnic and and a chance to soak in one of the most photographed landmarks of Germany. We then dipped our toe into Luxembourg on the way back and followed the Moselle river on the way back to Oberachern. When we returned we were met by old friends for a Bar-B-Q. When i come back to Sasbach and the Lender, I feel at home. It is group of friends that are a joy to be around. It was an evening of stories, laughing, and enjoying the gift of friendship. 

Sunday was a relaxing day and we went to the Lotharpfad Park and had a nice hike with the kids. It is a park devoted to the regrowth of an area of forest after a massive storm in December of 1999. The storm blew over hundreds of trees in a freak storm. They have devoted the years since to watching it regrow and have made it a place for people to connect with the land and see it revitalized. As I look back over the years it will be interesting to see the changes from pictures several years ago. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and scoring exams. I got the better end of the deal because I got to relax and the Großsmans got to score exams. The family weekend is always important for the students to connect to his/her family and the culture. The same applies to the teachers. Dawn and I have had hosts over the last 5 exchanges that are unparalleled in their graciousness and hospitality.