Home Haddonfield News HMHS students Stoner, Herdelin earn once-in-a-lifetime study trip to Germany

HMHS students Stoner, Herdelin earn once-in-a-lifetime study trip to Germany

One-month excursion arose as a result of performance on National German Exam.

A pair of Haddonfield Memorial High School students, two of five from the school who earned Gold medals on the Level III National German Exam, won the chance to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany this summer. From left HMHS senior Lucy Herdelin, German teacher Anna Feinleib, HMHS sophomore Olivia Stoner.

When we last heard from Haddonfield Memorial High School sophomore Olivia Stoner and senior Lucy Herdelin back in late January, they were simply two of five students from the school who earned gold medals on the Level III National German Exam, meaning they qualified for a chance to win a summer trip to Germany. 

After submitting essay questions in the mother tongue of Brecht, Nietzsche and Goethe, Stoner and Herdelin were recently selected for that trip, an all-expenses-paid summer sojourn throughout Deutschland. They are two of only 44 students from the United States chosen for the honor.

“After we found out we were gold medalists, we were told we had the opportunity to apply for that trip. That was a super-exciting opportunity, and we all took it. Basically, (your responses to the questions) talked about who you are, why you like German so much, what interests you about Germany, but it’s all done in German,” Stoner said. 

“There are a few sections, like a letter to a host family that you have to write, and it was interesting because they included that, if we did win, it would be the letter they would send to our potential host family on our behalf. And that was nerve-wracking. They just said to write it to a host family,” Herdelin added. 

Herdelin and Stoner will embark on two slightly different trips based on their grade level, and both may be subject to change. For Herdelin, who will be graduating in less than two months, the senior trip is scheduled to depart on June 26 with an expected U.S. return date of July 26. For Stoner and fellow rising juniors, their expected departure date is June 27 with an expected return of July 20. 

HMHS German teacher Anna Feinleib said neither of the girls will know with whom they will be staying until close to the time they depart for the trip. 

“It’s unknown until the last moment. It makes (writing) more difficult and it’s arranged in May or June by the American Association of Teachers of German. I think it doubles the difficulty of the task to write to people that you don’t know and haven’t met, don’t know which part of Germany they live because of the differences. So kudos to both girls, who did such a great job.” 

Included in the trip will be round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Germany, lodging with a host family, visits to places of historical and cultural significance throughout the nation, as well as a two-week international seminar where they will meet additional U.S. winners and those from other countries. Stoner and Herdelin will essentially split time between the sightseeing and educational portion of their respective trips. During the latter two weeks, they will be attending classes with the host family’s sibling and then attending those seminars. 

“This year’s prize winners are some of the finest students in the U.S.,” said Keith Cothrun, executive director of the AATG in a release. 

“The prize is a great reward for excellence in learning German – and the best way to better get to know a fascinating language and culture through firsthand experiences living with a German family and attending school.” 

Herdelin was grateful to be chosen for the experience because, in the fall, she will enroll in college and will see how German classes will be more difficult, more challenging and more immersive than what she’s experienced in Haddonfield. Since this is a program through the German government and not just the AATG, there will be a sizeable number of international students attending, and she relishes the contact with other German-language lovers. 

For Stoner, the upcoming experience is extremely exciting because, she says, it’s one thing to learn about the German language and have an interest in it, but totally another to have the opportunity to be immersed in the German culture and receive firsthand perspective to see what she’s been learning about for so long. She’s looking forward to meeting other students from different countries who have the same appreciation for German, and if they didn’t have the language connection, you couldn’t even talk to them. 

“It’s remarkable because they say that English is the international language, and here we have German as the international language and it gives us an entirely different outlook,” said Feinleib.

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