NILES WEST – First American School to Present At International Environmental Conference

The Niles West German Department received a $10,000 grant from the German government through the PASCH network to travel to Bremen, Germany to present at the 5th Annual International Environmental Conference, Umwelt macht Schule in May 2019. This was the first time an American school participated and presented at this international conference.

Niles West second year German Honors students Alma Osmankic and Evan Arvizu, accompanied by German teacher Joe Neumayer, spent 6 days at the Oberschule Findorff, where they participated in workshops and trainings in environmental science and sustainability. Osmankic, Arvizu, and Neumayer presented to more than 100 participants from schools mainly from Eastern Europe and Asia. Their project focused on how diet impacts human health and regulatory processes. They conducted the research for this presentation during the school year in their German course at Niles West, and students received extensive advanced fluency training as well as content-related vocabulary and structures for 2 months prior to travel.

Niles West participant Alma Osmankic said, “I can truly say that this study trip in Germany was an outstanding experience! We learned a lot about environmental issues and solutions for those problems. I am beyond grateful for the trip, PASCH, meeting new people, and learning a lot about Germany’s culture, as well as environmental issues.”

“Not only did we learn a ton about sustainability and environmental issues, but the experience presenting at an international conference was absolutely sensational for both my students and me,” said Niles West German teacher Joe Neumayer. “German was the common language, and I was so proud of my students, in just their fourth semester of German, for this amazing accomplishment. We also spent a considerable amount of time in the city of Bremen itself, which has a very rich history and is now extremely diverse culturally.”

Neumayer continued, “I personally made many connections with colleagues from Oberschule Findorff, as well as teachers from other countries, like Uzbekistan, and Belarus. These new relationships with these amazing educators have provided me with incredible new insights, and have enriched my perspective immensely. I look forward to sharing these anecdotes and experiences with others.”

Evan Arvizu said, “This trip was an amazing opportunity that I am extremely grateful for. Participating in the conference allowed us to meet many new people from around the world. With those connections, we can work to improve the environmental issues that we learned about.”

Travel expenses for this international trip were covered through PASCH, a network which promotes the teaching of the German language and aims to build active and long-term links to Germany. The Goethe-Institut selected Niles West to be the 12th PASCH school in the United States.

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