From Fürstenzell to Atlanta: Marist's German Exchange Program Promotes Global Connections

Marist School recently played host to an enriching cultural and language exchange program organized by Modern & Classical Languages teacher Ms. Jessica Askins. Welcoming a group of 17 students and two teachers from a Marist sister school in Fürstenzell, Germany, the exchange spanned from March 18 to April 2, marking a vibrant intercultural journey for both the visitors and their Atlanta Marist counterparts.
Exchanges offer meaningful learning experiences for Marist students and serve as valuable tools in preparing them to become compassionate servant leaders. Through leveraging connections within the Society of Mary, such as the longstanding partnership with the Marist school in Fürstenzell, students have the opportunity to connect globally, engage in cross-cultural dialogue, and develop an understanding of and appreciation for the inherent dignity and perspectives of individuals from diverse cultures.

The exchange began with a warm reception in Winchester Lobby in Ivy Street Center, where host families eagerly awaited their German guests. While in Atlanta, the visiting students stayed with Marist families, fostering deep connections and friendships. Accompanying teachers and chaperones were accommodated at the Marist Rectory, extending the spirit of hospitality throughout the exchange.

Beyond the confines of the classroom, the German students immersed themselves in the rich tapestry of Atlanta's cultural offerings. From exploring iconic landmarks like the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola to delving into the city's history at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr., their itinerary was a mosaic of experiences. Additionally, they sampled the flavors of Atlanta at the Municipal Market in Sweet Auburn, embarked on a scenic hike to the top of Stone Mountain, and enjoyed shopping at The Forum and Perimeter Mall.

As part of their educational immersion, the German students were treated to a comprehensive tour of Marist’s campus in Brookhaven, attended classes alongside their American peers, and enjoyed the high school musical production of "Something Rotten!". Their stay also included a short journey to Tybee Island and Savannah, adding coastal charm to their Georgia adventure.

Reflecting on her experience, Caroline Spies ’25, a host to one of the exchange students, shared her insights, saying that meeting the students for the first time was a highlight. “Everyone's energy is always super high, and people are really excited and nervous to meet them. Another highlight is getting to hear about the differences in our cultures.”

Spies emphasized the importance of proactive engagement before the exchange, drawing from her previous Spanish exchange hosting experience. “I learned to not be afraid of reaching out more before they arrive in Atlanta … It's important to ask lots of questions and to not be afraid to ask them because the entire point is to learn from one another.”

Expressing her gratitude for the transformative experience, Spies eagerly anticipates future exchanges. “I have truly learned so much through this process, and I cannot recommend the experience enough.” She plans to host another exchange student next year from Spain and hopes to participate in the exchange program there as well.

Looking ahead, Ms. Askins is gearing up to lead a group of students to the Marist sister school in Fürstenzell in June, fostering reciprocal bonds and furthering cross-cultural understanding. As the curtains draw on this year's exchange, Marist celebrates the enduring spirit of camaraderie and learning that transcends global borders.

Those interested in learning more about Marist exchange programs and student travel opportunities should please direct inquiries to Director of Global and Humane Studies Mrs. Kelly Mandy '96.

Marist School

3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-1899
(770) 457-7201
An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers