Studienreisen für amerikanische Sozialkundelehrer

Insightful, Inspirational, Interconnected

Studienreise von US-Lehrkräften nach Deutschland

Eine Gruppe US-amerikanischer Lehrkräfte lernte auf ihrer Reise die deutsche Geschichte, Kultur und das politische System kennen. Bei Treffen mit Politiker*innen, Journalist*innen und Vertreter*innen der Zivilgesellschaft diskutierten die Teilnehmenden über aktuelle Themen in den Transatlantischen Beziehungen, den deutschen Blick auf die USA und über unterschiedliche Ansätze in der Bildungspolitik. Bei Schulbesuchen vernetzten sie sich mit ihren deutschen Kolleg*innen, loteten mögliche Kooperationen zwischen ihren Schulen aus und kamen mit Schüler*innen ins Gespräch. 

Bericht von Jesse Deaton

Day 1,
June 24, 2023

Twelve teachers from seven states arrived safely to Berlin and were shuttled to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We walked over to Potsdamer Platz and were overwhelmed by the welcoming nature of our hosts who guided us in what we should order. We got to know each other over Berliner Kindl Pilsner and Berliner Weiße.

Day 2,
June 25, 2023

Our day began with a Berlin city walking tour, starting at the Brandenburg Gate. During the tour, we were led around the city and amazed by the detailed answers our tour guide Hannah was able to provide for us. As teachers, we asked lots of questions, enough so that the tour took longer than it was supposed to! We proceeded to meet with Dr. Fabrizio Micallizzi and discussed Germany’s political system and foreign policy appraoch, Germans’ responsibilities towards refugees, and what we can do as American teachers to help foster transatlantic relations. Afterwards, we had lunch with Dr. Matthias Rossbach who helped us understand German cooperative Federalism and German politics. In addition, we met with Sabine Luthe to discuss the structure of Germany’s education system. We talked about topics such as curricula, assessment, and foreign language teaching methods. Our day ended in a dinner discussion with two activists from the Fridays for Future climate protection movement, during which we learned about how to encourage students’ passions.

Day 3,
June 26, 2023

The amazement of actually being in Germany finally set in and we were off to Dresden! First, we visited Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Gymansium where the students greeted us, gave us tours of the school, and participated in small group discussions about the differences between German and American schools. We learned about the school’s science specialty and the school choice that parents and students have to make in Germany. Our second meeting in Dresden was with Dr. Roland Loeffler and Dr. Joachim Amm with the Saxon Agency for Civic Education. We discussed voting trends, the nature of division between conservative and liberal belief systems, the conservative tilt of rural areas on the basis of workers’ rights, and the necessity of civic education for a successful democracy. These discussions were eerily similar to those in the United States.

We exchanged stories from our classroom experiences and our personal histories, which left us laughing and commiserating into the night.

We proceeded to tour the former Stasi Prison and Memorial Site Bautzner Strasse which touched us deeply (the prison held political prisoners in East Germany). In the evening, we went to our first German Biergarten where we met with the 2022 alumni of the transatlantic teachers’ trip! Our German counterparts welcomed us with open arms and suggested foods and drinks to try. We exchanged stories from our classroom experiences and our personal histories, which left us laughing and commiserating into the night. At the end of the evening, we parted ways, looking forward to visiting their schools in the coming days.

Day 4,
June 27, 2023

Our wonderful bus drivers shuttled us to Limbach-Oberfrohna where we visited Grit Muller’s school, the Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium. On the way, we made an impromptu stop at a supermarket to pick up snacks to bring home to our families! Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium’s 5th grade class welcomed us with a tour of their favorite parts of their lively school. Their upperclassmen had just finished their exams, so we were able to experience the buzz of excitement in the hallways. Heike Bachmann, then, welcomed us into Pestalozzischule. Her students guided us through the hallways, discussing their vocational programs. After lunch, we visited the Amerika Tierpark with a group of Ms. Bachmann’s students and talked about their favorite animals. We proceeded on to Leipzig and learned about German views of America with journalist Martin Klingst including German views on the Trump presidency and the skepticism that surrounds German-American collaboration. We also discussed the teaching of critical race theory and the controversy around it in the United States. Our day concluded with a beautiful walk through Leipzig to enjoy our first Döner Kebap.

Day 5,
June 28, 2023

The final school we toured was Oberschule Wiederitzsch. Daniel Selle, a 2022 alumnus of the program, opened his school to us and demonstrated an unmatched passion for his students and his subject. We were inundated with the love that this school pours out for its students. From supporting the academic success of their students to special art programs initiated by the teacher, these students were valued as people in their community.

We were inundated with the love that this school pours out for its students

Afterwards, we proceeded to the Museum of Contemporary History Leipzig and found yet another deeply enriching historical experience. The tour was soaked in historical details, yet made personally relatable by our tour guide and our host, Franka. After our tour, we ate lunch at Auerbachs Keller and we learned about the restaurant’s history: It was already well-established in the 16th century and featured prominently in Goethe’s play, “Faust.” The food was delicious and the Apfelkuchen was particularly wonderful! Another 2022 alumnus, Daniel Riedel, led our tour of the Völkerschlacht Memorial where we learned another layer of German history and created memories with our fellow teachers. To finish out the day, we attended a stand-up comedy show by Shakak Shapira during which many jokes were made about Texas because one of our colleagues was a Texan! When the show was over, we enjoyed lively discussion with Daniel Selle and Daniel Riedel exploring more ways that our schools could collaborate at different grade levels.

Day 6,
June 29, 2023

Our final day in Germany started out with a bang as we got to ride the bullet train from Leipzig to Berlin! We arrived in Berlin and made our way to tour the Bundestag. We were able to spend a significant amount of time here during which we studied the skyline, discussed the symbolism of transparency in the dome’s design, and highlighted our favorite parts of the trip thus far. For lunch, we met at the Atlantik-Brücke headquarters to debrief about our trip. Our group noted the truly life changing, inspiring nature of the opportunity we were given. The intercultural exchange that we witnessed in each city was astounding. We also noted the inclusion of climate protection that blended throughout each community from public transport to not seeing a single paper cup in a restaurant. We discussed the connections that were made between us, the American teachers, as well as between our group and the German teachers. We each look forward to incorporating these relationships into our classrooms. Our free time that afternoon was filled with museum tours, a visit to the East Side Gallery, visits with international friends, and delicious snacks. To wrap up our last day in Germany, we had a farewell dinner at a Turkish restaurant which was a perfect way to inspire more cultural exchange in our group.

Each host welcomed us with open arms, excited to form a relationship and share their expertise.

The highlight of this trip truly is the people you meet. Each host welcomed us with open arms, excited to form a relationship and share their expertise. We witnessed their passions and their talents alongside their best work. From seeing teachers care for their students to hearing foreign officers praise transatlantic relations, we became more inspired the longer into our journey we went. During our trip, we meditated on personal connections we have made with our own students and developed new connections with teachers across the US and in Germany. These connections will serve us well in the future for exchange programs, pen pal projects, and for furthering our own education. Most of all, these relationships will help us become better people for ourselves, our families, and our students by emphasizing the necessity for relationships between nations.


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