Students from Court Fields school made a half-term exchange trip to Wellington’s twin town of Immenstadt. Twenty young people boarded a Berry’s coach and headed off to Dover en route to a week of skiing and German hospitality.
A most unfavourable weather forecast made little impact on the spirits of the group and after 11 hours waiting in the port for the storms to subside we finally made it onto the ferry for a bumpy Channel crossing.
The long delay meant that our first night in Germany was an unplanned stop in Karlsruhe Youth Hostel, but an early start the following day saw us arrive in the delightful alpine town of Immendstadt in time for a late lunch. The students greeted their German partners like long lost friends thanks to the modern miracle of social networking and soon everyone was happily settled with their host families.
The following day the group collected their equipment and headed to the slopes for their first lesson with Florian the skiing instructor. For many of the group it was their first time on skis but nervous first slips and slides were gradually replaced by increasing confidence towards the end of the day. Meanwhile the more experienced students wasted little time in exploring the resort accompanied by their guides.
The group spent time with their partners in local schools for a glimpse of a different education system, and during a rest day visited a snowy Neuschwanstein castle and the historic town of Kempten.
By the end of the week everyone felt fully integrated into the Bavarian way of life. Host families had taken the students tobogganing, mountain walking, ice-skating and horse riding whilst keeping us all well fed and supplied with delicious picnics for the slopes.
On the last day the instructors held a ski race that saw everyone successfully descend a slalom course. The winner was Alessandra Sears from Court Fields who held off some very determined boys from Castle School! In the evening the German hosts laid on a brilliant meal at a local hotel with speeches and prizes. The week ended with some tearful farewells to new friends that we look forward in welcoming to Somerset in the summer.
The exchange proved to be a marvellous experience for all concerned. Particular thanks must go to Laurian Cooper from the Twinning Association and Ceri Jones, German teacher at Castle School who worked tirelessly to make the trip such a success.
Thanks also to the accompanying teachers who gave up their holiday to accompany the students; all were a great credit to themselves and their respective schools. Above all we thank the German hosts who provided us with such brilliant hospitality.
Report: Noel Jenkins