An essential highlight in the educational journey of students at Silicon Valley International School (INTL) are the school's cultural immersion and exchange trips. These trips are an invaluable opportunity for INTL students to explore the globe, fully immerse themselves in local culture and language, forge new friendships, and put into practice the language skills they have cultivated through INTL's bilingual immersion program. Recently students from INTL’s Upper School German Program travelled to Germany to attend classes with INTL’s sister school, Otto Schott Gymnasium, and tour the rich cultural offerings of the surrounding area. Read about some of the highlights below.
The group had an exhilarating day exploring the beautiful city of Mainz. They embarked on the Straßenbahn (an urban tram or streetcar) from the school in Mainz Gonsenheim and began their exploration of the old town, visiting landmarks such as the Fasnachtsbrunnen (carnival fountain) and St. Stephan's Church, adorned with stunning windows painted by Chagall. Accompanied by a knowledgeable host teacher who served as their guide, the students were captivated by the Roman sites, particularly the remains of the Roman Theatre discovered during the construction of a train station.
After a delicious lunch, their guided tour took them to the Gutenberg Museum, where they had the opportunity to see two bibles from Johannes Gutenberg's workshop, printed using the revolutionary method of letterpress printing with movable type. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the print workshop that followed, where the students unleashed their creativity by making their own prints.
The group embarked on an exciting day trip to the charming town of Heidelberg. Upon arriving in the old part of the city, the students were thrilled to have some free time to wander the pedestrian streets, immersing themselves in the local shops, cafes, and boutiques, soaking in the language, unique atmosphere, and culture of this picturesque town.
After a quick lunch, they climbed the 300 steps to reach the magnificent Heidelberger Schloss, an awe-inspiring castle that towers over the Neckar River. The students were not only captivated by the castle's architecture but also by the guide's enthralling mystery story. Each student embraced their assigned role for the tour, using their analytical minds and sharp wits to solve the murder mystery of the count's bodyguard. It was an enchanting experience for everyone involved.
Back to School
After a sunny and mild weekend, the students returned to school, full of excitement as they shared their adventures with their host families over the weekend. Although they attended different classes throughout the day, they came together for physical education with one of their host teachers and her class.
The group embarked on a captivating tour of Frankfurt. They took a short train ride from Mainz to Frankfurt's main station and a brief underground train ride to old town Frankfurt. Meeting their tour guide at the Römerplatz, where Frankfurt's city hall is located in the heart of the old town, the students delved into the city's rich history. They learned about the reconstruction of the old town, the development of the environmentally friendly high-rise buildings in the financial district, and visited significant landmarks such as the dome and the Paulskirche, recognized as the cradle of German democracy.
They caught a glimpse of the Struwwelpeter Museum, explored Roman ruins, and crossed the Iron Footbridge. Before lunch and a bit of shopping on Zeil, Frankfurt's main shopping street, they visited the Experiminta Science Center, where they discovered the inner workings of a soap bubble, experienced the sensation of a fakir bed, observed tornado development, and explored the fascinating behavior of waves, among other scientific wonders.
Roman ruins and more
The day flew by swiftly as the students attended their morning classes. They gathered at the Straßenbahn Haltestelle near the school, boarding the 51S line to Mainz. Making a quick stop at a local bakery, they then convened at the Schiller Monument to capture a memorable group photo.
An intriguing Roman archaeological site at the entrance to the old town center caught their attention, hinting at the many undiscovered underground treasures waiting to be unearthed. Signs of the town's rich history and the surrounding area surrounded them, immersing them in its storied past. Another notable landmark they explored was the St. Martin Dom zu Mainz, the Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, a figure well-known to the students from Laternenfest celebrations.
The students reached the picturesque town of Rüdesheim on the banks of the Rhine River, a mere half-hour west of Mainz. Ascending the gondola to the summit of the Germania monument, they were rewarded with breathtaking views of the Rhine River and the steep hillsides adorned with vineyards.
Halting at the base of the monument, they indulged in a delightful picnic and captured numerous photographs. The students reveled in the joy of rolling down hills carpeted with Gänseblümchen (daisies). Meandering through a forest of majestic oaks and pines, they relished the opportunity to feed friendly deer before descending on a chairlift to the charming town of Assmanshausen.
INTL’s cultural immersion trips provide an unparalleled environment for language acquisition as students are surrounded by native speakers and authentic linguistic contexts. Through daily interactions with locals, students gain practical experience in listening, speaking, and understanding the language in real-life situations. The exposure to diverse cultural practices and traditions enhances INTL students’ understanding of language nuances and cultural references, enriching their overall language proficiency. These trips foster a sense of curiosity and openness, encouraging students to embrace cultural differences and cultivate a deeper appreciation for global diversity.