As I write this reflection it is some of my last few days here in Germany. During the course of this year I have met many great people and had a wonderful opportunity to work here in the high school in Mindelheim. The community that I have had the privilege to be a part of this year has been wonderful, and welcoming to me every step of the way on my journey this year. I am sad to be leaving Germany but this year has been a truly wonderful experience for me and I would not trade this opportunity for the world. I want to take this chance to say thank you to the entire Marist community and everyone who made this year possible. I had a wonderful time and I truly thank everyone who was a part of making this happen.
School was obviously a very important place for me, and the place where I spent most of my time this year. Interacting and getting to know both the students and faculty was a very rewarding experience for me and I think for them as well. When I first arrived I was nervous, I had a big fear of public speaking and I was not sure how I would react to being the center of attention every day in a high school. As the year went on and I got to know the people, and became more comfortable in my new environment the nerves went away and I began to feel very much a part of the family. I got the opportunity to help with sport which was very nice and also the English lessons throughout the year, preparing the students for their oral English exams and helping to make sure the kids were not causing too much trouble. With the older students we would meet in small groups and talk for twenty minutes or so about a specific topic, like politics, Trump, EU elections, or more likely we would just talk about life. In the beginning of the year my goal was just to make these students more comfortable around me and more comfortable speaking English. I wanted to give the students a place where they were not nervous to speak English, a place where they could ask questions about the US, travelling, or just ask about the next chapter of life. Some students were too shy to really speak in class so I wanted the sessions with me to be a place where they could talk freely. I was very proud seeing the improvements in my students, especially the so called “bad” students. This was a very rewarding time for me in the school and I learned a lot about myself and the younger generation. My other duties mostly revolved around helping the younger students, ten year olds from the class five. I was nervous about this because I am not often hanging out with such young kids but this class turned out to be one of my favorites. The students are full of life and interacting with them and watching them grow up a bit throughout the year was really great. Overall I could not have been happier with my work this year. All my students were great and the faculty welcomed me with open arms, I really think I helped some students gain confidence in themselves and their English skills which was my goal from day one.
The Marist community I was a part of was also excellent, everyone was very welcoming and it seemed like a big family at times. These people were very important to help me settle in a foreign land and were some of the first friends I had in Germany. I cannot thank everyone at CMI enough for the patience and friendliness they showed me this year. Writing this letter is bittersweet because I will soon be saying goodbye to many people I consider close to me but that is a fact of life and something that will, overall, make me a stronger person. I am truly grateful for this experience and if I got the opportunity to do it all over again, I would.