While on a business trip in 1994, Padua’s president, Fr. Jim Edmiston had a chance encounter with Fr. Werinhard Einhorn in a Franciscan monastery in Osnabrück, Germany. Einhorn was the headmaster of Ursulaschule, a co-educational Franciscan school. After some conversation, the two agreed that a partnership between the two schools could provide the students in each school with opportunities to explore other cultures and the benefits would be immense. And so Ursulaschule and Padua Franciscan High School became sister schools and an exchange program between the two began.
Each spring German students, accompanied by their teachers, would arrive in the United States, first visiting the Washington DC area, then arriving in the Cleveland area, where they would stay with Padua students and their families. While here the group would visit numerous points of interest that would introduce them to American life. The students would visit classes and would enjoy individual outings with their host families. By the end of the trip, a bond was formed between Americans and Germans alike.
On a biennial basis, Padua students would spend two weeks of their summer vacation traveling to Germany. Each trip varied, but students often visited Austria, Bavaria, and other points of interest before making the trek northward to stay with students from Ursulaschule in Osnabruck. These trips provided wonderful experiences for students and faculty members from both countries. Due to the COVID outbreak in March of 2020, the trips were canceled and did not resume until this spring when English teachers Miriam Klostermeier and Julia Lünswilken arrived in April with their students from Ursulaschule.
The school was filled with excitement with the return of the program. Students hosted our German visitors and played ambassadors as they showed them the best our school and the Cleveland area have to offer. They visited the Cleveland Museum of Art, Baldwin-Wallace University, Holden Arboretum, took a Cleveland bus tour, and even were treated to a production of our spring musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The departure of our guests was a tearfilled one, but the sadness would not last long, as many of our Padua students, accompanied by Frau Brenda Kuvin and Mrs. Jo-Anne Hipkins, turned around and visited them in June, just after school got out. Our Bruins spent two weeks in Germany. During the first leg of their journey they followed the famed Fairy Tale Trail which follows the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm whose stories were preserved by being handed down from generation to generation. Students visited quaint German towns, exploring such places as Cinderella’s castle and Rapunzel’s tower. The second week of the journey was spent in Osnabrück, visiting Ursulaschule and its students. Students stayed with host families where they were able to experience everyday life through eating authentic foods, visiting shops, and even visiting classes with their hosts. The revival of such a wonderful program allows bonds to be formed between our students and their German counterparts and helps make the world a smaller place.