Town celebrates 60 years of exchange

The Kiel group and Madras staff.
The Kiel group and Madras staff.

A programme that is thought to be oldest unbroken exchange between two schools involving Scotland and Germany is celebrating a major anniversary.

For 60 years, pupils from Madras College and Kieler Gelehrtenschule in the German town of Kiel have cultivated their connection.

For the last week, the German students have experienced life in Scotland.

The group have been taken on a tour of the town, visited Stirling to see the castle and Wallace Monument, taken part in workshops and even hit a few golf balls.

Tomorrow (Saturday) the college will celebrate the diamond anniversary of the exchange with a special ceilidh and the unveiling of the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Mobiles, before the Kiel group depart for home on Sunday afternoon.

There will be two mobiles – one for each school – depicting the important milestones in the history of the exchange.

The ceilidh will bring together not only the current exchange group, but also former students who were involved in the past.

And outside the college, flyers detailing the history of the exchange will be handed out, along with samples of both Scottish and German products, as the school’s pipe band welcome the pupils inside.

Dorothy Orem, who has been organising the exchange for the last 18 years, explained the project’s importance to the school.

“It’s part of Madras’s identity,” she said. “It’s also a great motivational tool in the classroom – the kids want to improve their German for the visit.

“I think it also cements relationships between the age groups, as half the pupils are from S4 and half are from S5.

“This year it has gone extremely well.

“It’s been great to renew old friendships and the pupils are enjoying themselves.”

The exchange started in 1957, after two historians, Dr John Thompson, the recently appointed rector of Madras College, and professor Karl Dietrich Erdmann, the professor of modern history at Kiel University, came up with the idea of the programme.

Dorothy said: “I’m sure it has exceeded their expectations. It was quite a daring thing to do after the war – Germans weren’t the most popular people.

“It’s amazing to see how the exchange has grown and impacted on people’s lives.

“You feel an immense sense of pride in the pupils. You see a different side of them.”