Axe Valley students forge links with German counterparts

Students during their visit to the Mercedes factory

Students during their visit to the Mercedes factory - Credit: Archant

Anti-Brexit youngsters say Europe is a great community, giving opportunities to live or work somewhere else.

Eleven pupils from Axe Valley Community College and one from Holyrood Academy, Chard, travelled to Germany for a week long visit.

They were warmly welcomed into the Kirchweyhe community by their exchange partners and their families.

A special reception was organised by the headmaster of the KGS School, Dr Martin Baschta, at which he said he hoped this new partnership would continue until and beyond his retirement in 20 years’ time.

The trip, which took two years to organise, was only made possible through financial support of East Devon District Councillor Andrew Moulding, the Axminster Rotary Club and an anonymous sponsor from London who donated £1,000.

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The visit included a visit to the Mercedes Benz factory in Bremen, a chance to experience life as blind people do at Dialogue in the Dark in Hamburg and the fascinating Emigration Museum in Bremerhaven, as well as several of the famous Christmas Markets.

“Everyone’s German has really improved,” said 13-year-old Axe Valley pupil, Holly. “We were in real life situations with our host families and in shops where we had to understand and speak the language.

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“We’re all truly grateful to our sponsors and the staff whose hard work and effort made this exchange possible.”

One enthusiastic pupil, Ellie, added: “I love German food. The whole experience was amazing and one which will stay with me for my whole life.”

Towards the end of the week the Weyhe Municipal Mayor, Dr Andreas Bovenschulte, hosted a reception at the town hall where the subject of Brexit was not avoided.

Having voiced his disappointment at the choice of the British public, Dr Bovenschulte’s address reiterated the hope of Dr Baschta that the young people of Britain would continue to visit Germany for many years to come and that it is the youth who will determine relations with Europe in the future.

Axe Valley pupils, Hannah, Alex and Alexandra, were reported in the local paper, Kreizeitung, as saying, “For us, Europe is a great community giving opportunities to live or work somewhere else.”

When interviewed in German by the more widely read Weser Kurier, A-level student, Matilda, expressed her view on Brexit. “I’m totally against it,” she said. “I love Germany and hope to be able to work here one day. Brexit may make that harder.”

Some of the pupils have made plans to visit their hosts independently before the Germans arrive in England next April, such is the strength of relations already.

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