April 10, 2013 | Leave a comment 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.