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NEWBURYPORT – A pair of exchange students from Germany gave a presentation to Newburyport High School students Wednesday about “green” practices in their home city, suggesting that environmental activism is shared by young people in many countries.
Nineteen students from the town of Waldkirch, near Freiburg in the Black Forest, have been in Newburyport since mid-October. They are part of the German American Partnership Program Exchange, which has existed between the two high schools for more than 20 years.
The German group comes in October and students from Newburyport go to Germany at the end of the school year in June.
The visitors were scheduled to leave today.
German students Anna-Maria Lay and Tina Schindelhauer offered a short presentation about what residents of Waldkirch and Freiburg are doing to improve the environment in their communities.
They said there are electric passenger trains, low emissions for cars have been mandated, and nuclear power plants have been discouraged.
Families recycle and compost in their homes, and young people grow vegetables and remove plastic from local rivers.
Asked what surprised them about Newburyport, Schindelhauer said, “The constant use of cars. Something might be a 10-minute walk away but people will get into a car to go there.”
One of the students’ teachers said she was surprised that so much material is thrown away here.
“I was waiting for coffee, and I wanted a real mug, but was handed a plastic cup and plastic spoon,” said Daniela Balkow. “I had wanted a mug because after I finished the cup of coffee, I had all these things to throw away.”
Molly Ettenborough, Newburyport’s director of recycling and renewable energy, praised the program.
“This program was great for the students to see the differences in the way things are done in foreign countries,” she said. “In Europe, many people, including adults, ride bikes when Americans seem to drive.”
Graciela Cummins, a Spanish teacher and club adviser who hosted the 7 a.m. gathering, said, “It’s valuable for our young people to know they are not alone. If they know students in Germany and other countries are working for a better environment, it will encourage them as they get older.”
Other presentations the German students made to local students included the culture and traditions in the Black Forest; the German school system and an overview of their high school; and a language lesson for German 1 students.
Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport. He can be reached at 978-961-3149, or at Media
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