By Susan Huseman, USAG Stuttgart Public AffairsJuly 31, 2008
STUTTGART, Germany -It was dAfAjAfA vu for Madison Krause.
Seven weeks ago the 14-year-old found herself back in Stuttgart after a two-year stint in Florida. "I was here from third to sixth-grade," said the soon-to-be high school freshman, who relocated with her family from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
Much can change in two years. "Baskin Robbins has moved. The PX has moved. A lot of my friends moved," she said, adding, "I need to meet new people."
That's why Krause attended the Child and Youth Services Stuttgart Newcomer Orientation earlier this month.
She and 17 other pre-teens and teens met at The Hub, the middle school and teen center on Patch Barracks, to meet each other, learn about their new community and get acquainted with German language and culture.
The free program is open to youths in grades six to 12. The only requirement is that participants be registered with CYS.
Many of the teens, like Krause, have had a few weeks to acclimate themselves to the community. But Brock Krahl, 13, landed in Stuttgart just three days before the orientation program started and barely had time to get over his jet lag.
Others, such as RJ Weaver, have been in Stuttgart a bit longer. "I've been here eight months," said Weaver, 13. Weaver attended because he was interested in learning more about the German community. "We've never been on the bus," he said of his family. That's one thing we're going to learn today ... I can teach my siblings and parents about it."
The program has several goals: introduce the newcomers to one another, make them feel a part of the community and give them a taste of Stuttgart. "We give the kids a primer on German language and culture. We equip them with the skills to feel comfortable on the economy," said Angie Collins, the Youth Sponsorship coordinator at The Hub.
Day One of the two-day orientation includes a tour of Patch Barracks and Panzer Kaserne. The group uses the shuttle bus to get around and learns how to read the shuttle schedule.
The group visits the high school and the middle school on Panzer. They visit Panzer Youth Services, the shopping mall, have lunch at the food court and go bowling. Military Family Life Consultants also speak to the teens about easing the stress of moving and the day ends with a two-hour German language class.
The language class prepares the group for Day Two and a trip to downtown Stuttgart.
On this particular occasion, the group visited the Art Museum, the Koenigsbau (German Stock Exchange), Konigstrasse (the shopping district), the Neues Schloss, Schlossplatz, Markthalle and the main train station. They toured the Stuttgart TV tower and saw Hamburg's visiting fish market.
All forms of public transportation are experienced. "We take the bus to the S-Bahn, take the S-Bahn downtown and take the U-Bahn back," said Collins. "We practice reading the German bus timetables."
The students are also taught how to use the online route system to plan future excursions.
"Our goal for the older kids is to make them aware of fun and safe options - things that are easily accessible by public transportation," said Collins. "I try to balance things that are entertaining with cultural options."
Collins mixes museums and galleries with swimming pools, English language theaters and shopping malls on direct bus lines.
"I try and stick with things so they don't have to transfer," she said. It makes it easier on the kids and their parents."
Fluent in German, Collins urges the teens to speak to her in German and quizzes them at every opportunity. "I'm encouraging them to try new things and practice new skills," she said. "I tell them your language skills may not be perfect but use the skills you have and you'll learn more."