06:17 AM

Students, instructor travel from Hessen, Germany to visit WCTC


Four students and one instructor from the Hans-Böckler-Schule (HBS) in Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany, traveled to Waukesha County Technical College as part of the Hessen-Wisconsin Exchange Program to experience American life and study at the College.

The exchange program provides a rich, international learning experience for participating students and their host families. Each fall, a group of HBS students travel to Wisconsin and spend two weeks at WCTC, and in spring, a group of WCTC students travel to Germany and spend two weeks at HBS. The exchange gives students opportunities to learn about the host country’s educational system, and businesses and organizations related to their fields of study; explore historical and cultural sites; and broaden their global perspectives.

Visitors to WCTC this fall were Elena Beslic, Lia Hack, Karolin Keiner, Josefa Weil (students) and Kathrin Matterne (teacher). During their visit, the international guests participated in classes and explored the campus, attended sporting and cultural events, and shared meals and other activities with their host families.

For Keiner and Hack, it was also a reunion. Last spring, Keiner’s family hosted WCTC Global Business student-now-alumna Silvia Castro, and Hack’s family hosted Global Business student Evan Koch. Just a few weeks ago, Castro and Koch welcomed Keiner and Hack, respectively, into their Wisconsin homes.

The Hessen-Wisconsin program dates to 1976 when Wisconsin and the German state of Hessen signed a partnership agreement. Since then, the states have cooperated in many areas, including commerce, research, colleges, universities and k-12 education programs. Many public and private colleges and universities along with select technical colleges in Wisconsin participate in the student exchange with Hessen universities and schools. Specifically, the WCTC-HBS partnership began in 2007, and since then, more than 60 German and American students have participated.

HBS is a vocational school with more than 1,000 students and provides training for students to work as legal clerks, legal secretaries, tax clerks, administrative assistants and real estate clerks. The school offers a combination of hands-on and theoretical training; students spend two days a week in classes and three days working at a company. At the end of their schooling, which is about three years in duration, students take a final exam in their program area and earn a certificate.

In a presentation to WCTC staff, the exchange students were excited to explore American culture.

“I’m doing this exchange program because I’ve never been to the U.S. before and I really wanted to see it,” Weil said. “That’s why I’m really glad to be here.”