QND program making the world a little smaller for students

German and American student enjoy a meal together as part of QND exchange program.

Eighteen German students from Quincy's sister city of Herford, Germany are learning about life in America at Quincy Notre Dame.

The students are part of a program for both American and German students aimed at bridging the gaps between our cultures.

On Sunday, the German and American kids along with their host parents gathered for a celebration in the QND cafeteria.

Looking at the kids laughing and talking you would never guess that some of them flew hundreds of miles from Germany to be in Quincy.

"Right now here at Quincy Notre Dame we actually have 18 students from our sister city in Herford, Germany," QND German teacher Erin Law said. "And they are here at Notre Dame observing everyday life at an American high school."

Law says that many people are not aware how popular the German language actually is.

"German is a huge language," Law said. "A lot of people do not realize it, but it really is. It's the second most widely used language out on the internet."

Five years ago Anette Gater-Smith from Hereford decided to extend the longstanding sister city relationship between Herford and Quincy by turning it into and educational opportunity for students.

"We learn in Germany a lot about England, Great Brittan and America," Gater-Smith said. "And for me it is very important to see the connection between America and Germany after or even during the bad times of our relationships. And from there to build on."

"My biggest thing is to have them understand that the world is a big place and that you need to learn to just go with the ebb and flow," Law said. "Cultures are different. Different places are different. But it's a big, wide world and all we want to do is get along together."

On Sunday, the struggles of our shared past seemed a distant memory in the QND cafeteria where good food, laughter and friendship are proving that the distance between us is not so wide after all.

As part of the exchange, the German students learned about the difference between buying groceries in Germany and buying groceries in America .

In June when the American students go to Herford, they will have a similar opportunity to learn about grocery shopping in Germany.

To learn more about the German American Partnership Program click here .