During spring break, twenty-one

students from West Chicago Community

High School had a life changing

experience. These jazz band members

traveled to Taufkirchen (Vils) in

Germany on a trip that was coordinated

through the West Chicago Sister Cities

organization. The students, along with

Steve Govertsen, high school band

instructor, James Wallace, middle

school band instructor, and Becky Hall,

parent and chaperone, were paired up

with host families for the week.

For many of the students it was a

first trip overseas. They were able to

experience life as a German teenager

and discovered that it really is very

similar to a teenager’s life in West

Chicago. They experienced the culture

and the food as a member of a

family. They also had the opportunity

to visit some of the sights in Bavaria.

A highlight of the trip was presenting a

combined concert with the Taufkirchen

swing orchestra that was attended by

over 300 people. The students had

a chance to learn some traditional

Bavarian music while sharing favorite

tunes from home. A video of the performance

can be viewed on YouTube.

On Thursday, April 4, 2013 five of the

students represented the group at

a Sister Cities meeting. They shared

some of their experiences with great

enthusiasm. They all agreed that the

exchange was very different from a

vacation or sight-seeing trip, although

they were amazed by the history of

the country, phenomenal castles and

other sights. They reported that they

fell in love with the small community

feel, friendly people and beautiful

countryside. Unanimously, they agreed

that the best part of the trip was

the connection they made with their

host families – relationships that will

endure for a lifetime. They are staying

in touch with their new “families”

through social media and video

chats. Some of their new friends are

planning to come to West Chicago in

the near future.

As Phil Bachelor, a Sister Cities member,

said, “Cultural exchanges expand

your mind and open your heart”.

According to Bachelor, that’s what

the Sister Cities organization is all

about. The community is invited to

its monthly gatherings at 7 p.m. on

the first Thursday of the month at

Pal Joey’s Restaurant, located at

Roosevelt Road, West Chicago.

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