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27 years of the German Exchange... and counting


Former Emanuel pupils (now predominantly in their first/second year at university) at Hamburg Harbour

Our latest cohort of German exchange pupils have just headed off, bound for Bergedorf - a leafy suburb of Hamburg.


Incredibly, this is the 27th year Emanuel has been exchanging pupils with the same German school - Luisengymnasium - with the pupils annually being hosted by the families of their exchange partners. When Mr Harry Jackson (Head of German) set up this exchange all those years ago no one would envisage that it would have such longevity, particularly with the same school. The structure of the exchange has changed very little over the years, with the German pupils visiting London, and visa-versa, always taking place in the first half-term of the school year, often in the same month. For almost 20 years the German group was led by Mr Wolfgang Venjakob, a big character, who particularly enjoyed Mr Jackson’s hospitality and was known to make an amusing annual ‘farewell’ speech in the staff common room when he departed London!


Why has this trip been so successful? Over the years around 600 pupils have been involved in this exchange, so hopefully some of you reading this post will have fond memories of your time in Germany. It’s known for its fun balance of day trips around Hamburg, often amazing outings organised by the German hosts, spending time in the German school and getting to know the German pupils. It’s a formulae that has been extremely successful, with the annual trip to the theme park being a highlight, and the unforgettable experience of ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ where the children experience, for an hour, what it would be like to be blind.   


For the pupils these are incredible growing experiences (maybe more 'aging' for staff!). In looking back Mr Jackson thinks that, over 27 years, he has spent six months either hosting German visitors, or being hosted himself in Germany. That’s some going.