German exchange students experience America: Intruder drills


Grace Fassler

Exchange students Luke Stöckelmann and Celina Henn stand beside the projector giving a presentation. Hen and her classmates traveled to St. Louis for two weeks and departed Saturday Oct. 12. “I’m sad that I have to go back. I wish I had more time here,” Henn said. “I wanted to get the experience of high school but I really like the neighborhood here.”

In the back corners of classrooms, students huddle together quietly as teachers secure their doors locked shut; those visiting from Germany follow suit as they hide in an unfamiliar classroom preparing for an unfamiliar–but unforgettable–experience.

Exchange students from Germany practiced an intruder drill for the first time in their lives Oct. 9, drill day, during which emergency protocols for a fire, tornado, earthquake and intruder were reviewed. 

“We just have a fire drill,” exchange student Celina Henn said. “I live in a smaller city in Germany, and I don’t know why they [only] do that because we should have a drill for [intruders]. I think we should have that because you never know where [danger] is. I think they just have that in bigger cities like Berlin.”

A frequent practice to American students since elementary school felt unnatural to the European students.

Kim Hanan-West
Students gather behind stacked desks during the intruder drill Oct. 9.

“It was crazy because there was this guy going through the classes and checking the door. It was a little bit scary, but it was fun to see how you do that,” Henn said.

Although the concept was new, the exchange students quickly grasped the value of the drill. 

“I think it’s important to have [an intruder drill],” exchange student Luke Stöckelmann said. “I think there are some schools in Germany which have it, and I don’t know [why] we don’t have it.”

Stateside experiences have altered the way Henn views America; however, she is appreciative of the similarities between German and American students. 

“I think [being an exchange student has been] really cool; I have a different view of America now than I had before,” Henn said. “Most people in Germany want to come to America one day, and my family’s really into America, but now I see that you’re only human, just like us.”