STAWELL - Stawell Secondary College is celebrating twenty five years of student exchanges between its students and those from Bavaria, Germany.
More than 100 students from Stawell Secondary College have travelled to Germany over the last 25 years and the college is one of the biggest contributors to the overall exchange program.
The program is run by the Association of German Teachers of Victoria (AGTV) and Bayerisher Jugendring (Bavarian Youth Council - BJR) and Stawell Secondary College has been with it since its inception in 1988.
Current Stawell Secondary College German teacher, Rudy Schrama has overseen the program since February 1989 and has made seven trips with the Victorian exchange.
In June last year, he represented the AGTV at the 60 year anniversary celebrations of the BJR international exchange program.
Mr Schrama spoke to The Stawell Times-News about the AGTV-BJR's success and the changes it has been through.
"When the program started we were hoping for a successful continuation, but we couldn't foresee the success of the exchange program or how it has continued to develop," Mr Schrama said.
"It was a different world 25 years ago. Germany was still divided and the first group has actually seen the Berlin wall.
"Through modern technology Germany seems a lot closer now with students being able to correspond through Skype and Facebook and through Google Earth students can have a sneak preview of where they are actually spending their 10 weeks in Bavaria."
Mr Schrama said it has always been pleasing to see many students from a regional school like Stawell willing to travel overseas.
"When the Head of the German exchange organisation, Mr Bottcher, visited Stawell and our school a few years ago he was absolutely amazed at the fact that so many people from such a small country town had been to Germany," Mr Schrama said.
"Many families have established friendly relations with their German counterparts and families from Germany have visited Stawell on several occasions and vice versa.
"The German exchange also encourages students to extend themselves and learn a language at school and it makes them realise there is a life and a world outside Stawell."
German students come to Stawell in February each year for 10 weeks and in November, the Secondary College students join a 50-strong Victorian contingent in travelling over to Germany.
Stawell Secondary College has recently welcomed four German students into the community and Mr Schrama is positive about the future of the program.
"I hope that many students at our college are inspired by the stories of previous exchange students and take on the challenge as well."
This Saturday, a BYO picnic will be held in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne on the lawn area near the Rose Pavilion from 12 noon to 4pm for all interested past German exchange participants and their families.