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Hagerstown welcomes visitors from its sister city in Germany

Group of 13 students from Wesel came to the area as part of a 61-year affiliation between the two cities

March 26, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown Mayor David Gysberts met with students from Wesel Germany Tuesday afternoon in the city's council chambers. The students are from left to right Haizea Peters, Lea Fischer, and Ineke Sobotta.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts got a round of laughs from a group of German students visiting the city Tuesday when he joked about the possibility of a war in the city’s past to “clear out” some things.

Gysberts and the students were comparing Hagerstown and Wesel, Germany, and Gysberts said he imagined that there were some relatively newer buildings in Germany because of past war damage in the country.

“Sometimes I wish we would have had a war here,” Gysberts said as he referred to some of the town’s landmarks.

“Some of them looked like they have been bombed out,” Gysberts said.

The group of 13 students are visiting the area as part of a Sister City affiliation with Wesel that has been ongoing for 61 years.

The students arrived here last Thursday and besides enjoying attractions in the region, they are also attending classes at schools, including Williamsport High School and North Hagerstown High School during their three-week stay.

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One of the highlights of their trip was meeting Gysberts in the Hagerstown City Council chambers Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Comparing Wesel and Hagerstown, Gysberts and the students talked about a variety of topics, including eating habits, weather, history, schools, and size of the two cities.

Gysberts said there are about 40,000 in Hagerstown’s city limits and the students said there are about 65,000 people in Wesel.

One of the students talked about how there is more to eat here than in Wesel.

“That’s why some of the Americans are....” said Gysberts, gesturing as if he had a big belly.

Student Joana Guenther talked about how students here are more restricted in how they can move about in local schools.

“Does it feel like our schools are prisons?” asked Gysberts.

“No,” the students said.

Student Arne Bergmann said his father participated in the Sister City program 25 years ago and visited Hagerstown.

“It’s cool,” said Bergmann when asked what it was like to be following his father’s footsteps.

Gysberts went around the room asking each of the students what kind of career they would like to pursue.

Among the answers were a public speaker, doctor, a job in the field of science and a career in engineering.

“Well you know you can be whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” said Gysberts, who also works as high school counselor.

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