German, U.S. students forge new cultural bonds

Last-minute disruption of plans was averted with staff’s quick reaction

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Any walls of friendship that may once have separated German young people from their U.S. counterparts were transparent as the Seton Catholic Prep community hosted 22 students from OttoHahn-Gymnasium School in Nagold, Germany on Seton’s West Chandler campus for a cultural exchange program. The German students were paired with their new Seton friends as a way to experience American high school life on campus, taking part in activities at the school during homecoming week.

“I was so happy to experience something new, and would recommend an exchange experience to everyone,” said Seton student Sydney Schurz. While the exchange ended up as a great time for all, the trip from Germany was close to being cancelled. It took quick action, accommodation and coordination from many different sources, including Seton’s administration, to ensure that the group would be able to keep plans for its exchange trip alive.

Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium’s program was through a different high school in previous years, and when trying to start up the program again post-COVID, they were unable to coordinate the program with the same district. The program’s original contact in the United States, Melanie Mello, found out that the program, which was already paid for and had activities planned was in danger of falling through. That was when she reached out to Seton Catholic to see if it was possible to host the students from Germany.

“We weren’t sure if everything would perfectly go down the way we thought it would,” Otto-Hahn teacher and exchange program leader Sophie Schlenker said. “Melanie Mello put us in contact with Seton Catholic Preparatory and she made everything happen. We are very happy.” Added another of the school’s teachers: “(Seton’s) extreme helpfulness and spontaneity in helping us out was just amazing. “We were on the verge of despair and Seton was there.”



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