Milena Ottow and her friends love America.
For three weeks, the 15-year-old German student and her 14 classmates from Dresden, Saxony, have been immersed in American culture.
"We loved the mall," she said.
The students are participating in the German American Partnership Program, or GAPP, with Cross Creek High School. This year was the first that the program, founded in 1972, was held in Richmond County schools.
"We are very excited to have them here and have thoroughly enjoyed this experience," said Robert Walker, the German teacher at Cross Creek High School.
Next summer, Mr. Walker will take a group of students to Germany for three weeks to experience its culture.
During their stay, which ends today, the German students have traveled to several historic sites and cities, including Fort Pulaski, Savannah and Atlanta. But the trip hasn't been entirely social. The students have been taking courses at Cross Creek, and while they admit there are some similarities in the core curriculum, they say there are many differences.
"There are many more choices here for classes," said 16-year-old Juliane Breuer.
The students said that, while they enjoyed the electives offered in Richmond County high schools, they also loved the buildings. The schools in Germany are located in much older buildings, Milena said.
Gabi Hoffmann, one of two teachers traveling with the students, noted the differences in the equipment available to teachers and the schedules.
"The equipment is so much better over here," she said.
Ms. Hoffmann also commented on the hospitality of the people.
By all accounts, the Germans have enjoyed their stay in Augusta.
"I wished the trip would have been longer," Milena said. "I'm looking forward to coming back."
Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552, or firstname.lastname@example.org.