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Woodbury girl experiences life as a German

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Woodbury resident Samantha Peterson, who will be a seventh grader at Lake Middle School in the fall, has experienced first-hand what it’s like to live in Germany.

Last month Peterson spent a week living the life of a German at Concordia Language Villages up in Bemidji, Minn.

“I thought it would be kind of cool to do because I’ve never done something like that before,” she said. “It’s something entirely different than what you’re used to.”

Peterson spent a week in Waldsee, the German village.

“Our family is from Germany originally so that kind of interested me,” she said, “and I wanted to try a bunch of the German food.”

Life in the village

At Concordia Language Villages, a program of Concordia College, participants are able to experience a simulated visit to another country by living in villages, inspired by the architecture of the countries.

“The buildings are kind of interesting looking,” Peterson said. “They don’t look anything like something you’d see in the U.S.”

During their stay at the villages, students not only become immersed in the language, but they experience the life of someone from their chosen country.

Students were issued passports, exchanged currency, and adopted a new cultural name.

Peterson adopted the name Larissa.

Peterson was able to experience the language and culture of Germany through large and small learning groups, authentic foods, holiday celebrations, re-enactments of historic events, songs, dances, crafts, games and everyday conversations.

It wasn’t all fun and games, though, Peterson said, since the camp counselors would only speak in German.

Prior to visiting Waldsee, Peterson had not taken any language let alone German.

“I had a hard time figuring out what they were saying all the time,” she said.

Experiencing the world

It was actually Peterson’s father, Michael, who suggested his daughter participate in one of the Concordia Language Villages camps because he had experienced them when he was a child.

“It broadens your perspective,” he said. “It gives you a chance to see why people think the way they do.”

Additionally, parents Michael and Stephanie Peterson said, being immersed in a different language will also prepare Samantha for the future if she ever does plan to travel abroad.

“If she wants to travel when she’s older, she can go somewhere and know a little bit about it,” Stephanie Peterson said. “She doesn’t need to be so afraid to try it.”

“Now she knows that you can go to other parts of the world where there isn’t a common language,” Michael Peterson said, “and make it through just fine.”

Samantha Peterson said she would highly recommend the Concordia Language Villages to others.

“I definitely suggest going to a language camp because it’s really fun and not as scary as you might think,” she said. “Learning a new language can be fun and it’s kinda fun to learn about different cultures.

“If you try something new it can turn out to be really fun.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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