For many years, young German students have come to Bell Tower Residence to participate in the lives and activities of our residents. This is part of their educational curriculum at their school in Germany which the Holy Cross Sisters run. This year we welcomed Alina Noeth from a small town, Bavaria, Germany and Anna Oberste-Dommes from Hammelburg.
Their mission is to experience the American culture and compare it with their homeland and also to improve their English.
“I have had first-hand experiences regarding the difficulties elderly individuals deal with as their health declines,” Anna states. “For many, they know their memory is not good and struggle to deal with it in a positive manner. They make light of it but I can tell it is a challenge which they handle with grace and humor. This also impacts the way they communicate with others.”
When asked what are some of the differences they see between America and the United States, Alina comments, “We are much more concerned with the environment in Germany. We do not use so much plastic and disposable items. Germany does not have Dairy Queens, which was a favorite, and not as many fast food places.”
“The landscape is so beautiful here,” adds Anna. “Everyone is so friendly and hospitable. We were worried how we were going to say hello to Sister Peggy and Sister Mary Anne when we met them at the airport. We didn’t have to worry, they just walked up to us and gave us hugs. In Germany it is much more formal. I was also surprised at the slang that was used at the airport when we arrived. I didn’t understand anything they were saying!”
“It has been an exciting and pleasant break from the pressures of school,” Alina comments with a smile. “I know why baseball is the national past-time. We went to a Brewers game in Milwaukee and there was a lot of eating and I can find my favorite Dr. Pepper almost anywhere here. In Germany I can only find it at the larger cities and at the train station where it is very expensive.”
“Everyone counts calories and drinks diet soda,” Anna observes. “Before coming here I thought everything would be much more modern here than in Germany, that is not necessarily true. We have never heard of cheese in a can and dry milk. We don’t have that in Germany.”
Phyllis and Jake Jacobson enjoyed visiting with the girls. Alina and Anna were very interested in listening to Jake talk about history which he taught at the middle school in Irma, Wisconsin.
I interrupted a Scrabble game being played by residents Berynelle and Barb Bauman to get their impressions of the German girls. Berynelle shared, “Alina and Anna were so pleasant. I’ve never been to Germany so I asked them a lot of questions and got the information. We shared lots of hugs.”
“They were so kind to us all and very sweet,” states Barb. “They are very intelligent and picked up a lot about Wisconsin, the English language and our slang in the short time they were here with us.”
By the time you read this article, Anna and Alina will be back home in Germany. We hope their three-week experience in the United States will be one they always will remember, we certainly will!