Germantown — Germantown officials last week met with three residents from Germantown's sister city, Ismaning, Germany, to strengthen bonds between the two communities.
Ismaning is similar to Germantown in more ways than one. It's a suburban community with a similar population size and is fairly close to Munich, like Germantown is close to Milwaukee.
This has been one of many visits where Ismaning residents visited Germantown or Germantown residents visited Ismaning. The exchange program has flourished for more than two decades.
The relationship between the cities started in the School District. It was only fitting that Ismaning's second Mayor Brigitte Thoma, her husband and doctor, Klaus Thoma, and Christa Nicklas, retired principal from Germany, met with Germantown Superintendent Jeff Holmes and Village Manager Dave Schornak at the School District offices last week. The informal meeting was to keep relationships fresh and update each other on current events.
Updating each other
Schornak told the visitors that the Germantown economy is improving, commenting on the strength of its Business Park. Ismaning was not exempt from the global recession that struck in 2008. Nicklas said their local economy has also started to improve.
Linda Wall, retired German teacher and department chair from the Germantown School District, organized the visit. Wall started the student exchange program between Ismaning and Germantown in 1986. Between 18 to 20 of her German students and teachers would travel to Ismaning every other year to fully immerse themselves in the culture by living with German families. Ismaning students would also visit Germantown every other year and live with local families as part of the program.
"I thought it was really important for students to learn about the culture," Wall said.
Though Wall has since retired and moved to Arizona, the program continues to flourish.
Join the club
Nicklas has also retired from her work in the schools. However, that has not stopped her from continuing to build a strong relationship between the communities. In 2009, she formed the American German Club to bring people from both countries together.
"The big advantage is we are connected with families," Nicklas said.
New members are welcome to join the club, which Nicklas said is growing "step by step."
For information about it, email Nicklas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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