Twenty German high school exchange students landed in Mt. Lebanon this September for the 29th straight year of an exchange program. Few people know that this longstanding successful program began as a rescue mission.
In 1983, students from Stiftisches Gymnasium in Duren, Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany were scheduled to participate in an exchange program with a high school in New England. Two weeks before their departure, the U.S. school cancelled. An agency in Washington, D.C., was assisting with the exchange. Someone there knew someone who knew someone who knew someone in Mt. Lebanon. Sheldon Campbell, Mt. Lebanon High School’s German teacher at the time, received the desperate call. Could Mt. Lebanon host the students? The community rallied, and Campbell found host families for them all. Two weeks later the Germans arrived as scheduled.
These days, families from Duren (near Cologne, Germany) welcome Mt. Lebanon students in their homes for two weeks each summer and the following fall, Mt. Lebanon families do the same for their German counterparts. This year, group activities for the German students included visits to Heinz Field, University of Pittsburgh and CMU, two days at Mt. Lebanon High School, a Lebo football game, an outing to Grove City to check out the Amish (and the shopping), as well as a three-day getaway to Washington D.C. Informal small-group outings included taking the T downtown, Mt. Washington, Ducky Tours, Kennywood’s Fright Night, the Hofbrauhaus, Giant Eagle’s Market District, apple picking, pumpkin carving, visits to New York City and Niagara Falls and plenty of local food treats: Primanti’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cheesecake Factory, Five Guys and s’mores.
mtl magazine listened in on some of the comments from this year’s farewell party.
See below which students are German and which are American. Editor’s note: Writer Ann Lutz Zacharias was one of the hosts for this year’s program.