It wasn’t your average field trip.
For 11 days, the Dunwoody High School Band performed, toured and experienced life in the German city of Nuremberg.
Band Director William Henderson said the trip was unusual because it was organized through Friendship Force International, a group that facilitates exchange programs.
“The reason it’s different is we stayed in German homes the whole time,” Henderson said. “It’s a totally different experience than staying in a hotel. You learn so much more about the culture, politics and history than you would just being a tourist.”
While in Germany, the band performed twice — once for the mayor of Nuremberg and in a joint concert with the band from Gymnasium Eckental, the high school hosting them on the trip.
The group also got to tour the area.
“We visited the old Roman city of Regensberg, we visited Bamberg, a medieval city,” Henderson said. “I think one of the most interesting things we did was visit the document center in Nuremberg, which was a museum chronicling the Nazi’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s and some details about the Nuremberg trials, which were post-WWII.”
There was also time for fun activities like cave exploring and a toboggan run. “Their host families took great care of them. They always had something to do,” Henderson said.
Henderson said he was inspired to organize the trip through experiences at his previous job at Decatur High School, which has hosted an international trip for band students every other year since 1979.
“My students really, I think, gained a lot from this experience. They gained some pretty strong friendships with the kids they stayed with,” Henderson said. “Most of them didn’t want to come home.”
Members of the band count time spent with their German peers as their favorite parts of the trip. “I liked being part of a different society than ours. It was a totally different experience than what I’m used to,” said freshman Nathan Lavender.
The band from Gymnasium Eckental is looking to visit Dunwoody in either September or February.
Dunwoody High School band members plan to show the German students the World of Coca-Cola, Six Flags over Georgia and the Georgia Aquarium. But they are also looking forward to letting them experience being a high schooler in Atlanta.
“I want to show them just everyday life, not a specific place because it’s just so different,” said freshman Hayley Gillespie.