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German and American students listen to a teacher's instructions during an impromptu musical performance Monday morning. Left to right are: Linda Schmitt, Bence Steiner (both German students) and Alisha Crider.

German and American students listen to a teacher's instructions during an impromptu musical performance Monday morning. Left to right are: Linda Schmitt, Bence Steiner (both German students) and Alisha Crider. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

German and American students listen to a teacher's instructions during an impromptu musical performance Monday morning. Left to right are: Linda Schmitt, Bence Steiner (both German students) and Alisha Crider.

German and American students listen to a teacher's instructions during an impromptu musical performance Monday morning. Left to right are: Linda Schmitt, Bence Steiner (both German students) and Alisha Crider. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

More than three dozen fourth- and fifth-graders from Argonner Elementary School in Hanau visited a local German school as part of a cultural exchange between the two schools. Joining Alisha Crider, center, in playing Twister are German students Nadine Maicher, left, and Linda Schmitt.

More than three dozen fourth- and fifth-graders from Argonner Elementary School in Hanau visited a local German school as part of a cultural exchange between the two schools. Joining Alisha Crider, center, in playing Twister are German students Nadine Maicher, left, and Linda Schmitt. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

HANAU, Germany — They sang, ate waffles, crafted Christmas gifts, played games and sang some more.

T’was the last week before Christmas vacation, and 37 American students from Argonner Elementary School in Hanau visited a German school as part of an exchange program. For many of the fourth- and fifth-graders, Monday’s visit to Limes Schule gave them a rare glimpse into a similar but different world.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Army Sgt. 1st Class Joel McJessy said as he watched his 9-year-old daughter, Brittney, work on an art project. “Normally, they don’t get a chance to interact with German kids.”

Each American kid was paired with at least one German student for the morning, and while language was a barrier to full comprehension, they still managed to communicate with each other.

“He tries to speak a little English,” Alicia Weaver said, nodding in the direction of her German host, 9-year-old Florian Schnee.

As she spoke, Florian was running the edge of a pair of scissors up a white ribbon, hoping to make his holiday bow curlier. When asked what his impressions are of his visitors, Florian noted how well “American kids run.”

Meanwhile, in the hallway, a trio of young girls — two German and one American — was wrapped up in a game of Twister. Within minutes, a small crowd had gathered around American Alisha Crider and her two new friends, Nadine Maicher and Linda Schmitt.

In February, the German and American students will reverse roles, with the later hosting the former. The visit is tentatively planned for the week before Valentine’s Day.

“Christmas is a German thing, traditionally,” said Gis Olbrich, the host nation teacher for Argonner Elementary School.

The exchange, Olbrich said, also allows students “to see the different approaches that teachers have.”

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