German Exchange Program Comes to Southside


Pluto Douglas, Assistant Newspaper Editor

In our average lives, we don’t typically consider the differences between our lives and those of other countries. Everything we do- even the smallest actions- are likely to be contrasting anywhere else in the world. Culture, norms, what is considered polite- it all rests on where you are located. Exchange programs are so beneficial for this exact reason. Foreign students get to live in and soak up a new culture meanwhile citizens have the opportunity to learn from them. Southside was given this same possibility in October 2022.

German exchange students flew into Arkansas on October 8th and left on October 25th. They are specifically from Hannover/Lower Saxony. It was a usual exchange experience: the Germans bunk with Americans and attend school with them (following their personalized schedule).
There were a few field trips as well- one to Downtown Fort Smith and two of our museums and the other to Arkansas capital Little Rock. During this time, students would learn from each other and become more acquainted with what foreign life was like. Julia Kabore, a multi-lingual 15-year-old, was one of the German students.

“I wanted to go to America because I always wanted to go to the place people seemed to always talk about,” She explained her decision to take part in the program, “I always loved to travel and when the opportunity presented itself I didn’t even hesitate,” Kabore said.

Her host, sophomore Kristen Smith felt a similar way about taking a German student in. Originally she had planned to go to Germany herself, but it didn’t work out so she chose the next best thing.

“It was a perfect match. [Julia] made me realize how abnormal I am and how different America is,” Smith reflected, “She said everything was bigger and the people are loud. She got overwhelmed in Walmart. She said it is amazing that we have all these choices,” Smith said.

Junior Allison Nobel, an American student, spent her time with Germans during their stay. “In Germany, they do not get to celebrate Halloween in the way that we do,” she said, “They got to carve pumpkins, go on hayrides, and have fun outdoors.” She and some other American students took the time to introduce the Germans to our Halloween traditions through a themed party.

Nobel reminisced on the farewell, “It was very hard saying goodbye to them because of how close we had all gotten.” New friends were created through this program that will likely last for quite a while. In just a short time, two groups from different countries were able to bond and share experiences.

Many Southside students will be taking the journey to Germany this summer. The same students who came to Fort Smith will be hosting and showing their culture to these Americans. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for knowledge and experience in the realm of travel. Students get a feel for how different people from other societies can be.