German Exchange Program Returns After a 10-Year Absence

by Sandra Foyt on July 16, 2012

in Enrichment Ideas

Nothing beats travel for opening minds and expanding horizons, but after September 9/11 many Capital Region high schools cancelled educational tour programs – until now. This summer, students in the German Club at Columbia High School in East Greenbush will once again participate in the German American Partnership Program, a non-profit high school exchange program between schools in Germany and the United States,which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

In that time, more than 265,000 German and American students have participated in the program, in more than 800 partnerships with high schools and technical colleges on both sides of the Atlantic. Each year, 10,000 to 12,000 students and more than 600 teachers from Germany and the United States participate in the exchange.

“GAPP is one of the very few exchange programs that is based on long-term and sustainable partnerships,” says Sabina Margalit, GAPP’s New York-based executive director. “These are partnerships not only between the students, but also between teachers, administrators, schools and communities.”

Home-stays are key to GAPP

How does the exchange work? With the help of GAPP, an American and a German high school form a reciprocal partnership meant to last several decades. Once the partnership is established, every year or every other year a group of students from each school visits its counterpart for four weeks and stays in the homes of local residents.

The home-stays with families are key to GAPP’s core idea. “The students learn about the other country’s everyday life and culture,” Margalit says. “They also bring their own home to the dinner tables of even the smallest villages in their host country.”

To learn more about GAPP programs, visit and

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| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email:, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

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