A piece of Germany in Colorado

MN German students put their skills to the test

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Molly Murch, Staff Writer

Tiring training sessions and painstaking preparation. This disciplined schedule, often associated with athletes, applies to scholars as well.

During the last weekend of September, Wendy Brennan, a MN German teacher, took juniors Olivia Benson, Connor Eastman, William Nervig and Haidyn Sosalla-Bahr, on a trip to meet others sharing their passion. On Friday Sept. 29, they flew to Denver and then took a shuttle to Estes Park where they stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies.

The students competed in The PASCH (Schools: Partners for the Future) Triathlon, an event run by the Goethe Institute, whose mission is to promote the German language. Eight other schools, all belonging to the PASCH group, each brought four students to participate, alongside the MN team.

The triathlon, meant to give students a chance to put their language skills to practical use, included educational activities such as quizzes over the language and German geography. MN won these quiz events, as well as the problem solving stations which were designed to foster team collaboration.

“It was academically centered, but at the same time, it was a lot of fun and I actually enjoyed myself,” Nervig said.

Additionally, physical aspects were involved. However, they were not the typical running, swimming and cycling triathlon events. Instead, students took part in obstacle courses in between their academic pursuits.

They immersed themselves in a German atmosphere, something crucial to learning a foreign language. They managed to speak only German for a majority of the time.

On the night of their arrival, they had a campfire where the students cooked up s’mores and sang songs, in German. The following morning was the “brain consuming” triathlon with a night hike that evening.

“When we were on the night hike, there was a moment where we just laid down on the trail, with no lights, and we looked up at the stars and the moon. It was really peaceful,” Benson said.

Being in Colorado is an experience in itself. Add German-loving students and teachers from around the country, and the weekend was destined to be unforgettable.

“One of the most memorable moments was going out of our cabin early and seeing the sunrise over the mountains. It had just rained so it was an absolutely amazing view,” Sosalla-Bahr said.

This was the first time that the triathlon has been offered but students and teachers alike hope it continues to be successful.

“It sounds like it’s going to be an every year thing. Hopefully we’ll have even higher participation next year,” Brennan said.

There are thousands of languages on Earth. Four students fell in love with one of them, and they will carry the memories made that weekend with them, even after high school.