Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

September 17, 2012

German visitors to Goshen declare 'it's wonderful'

GOSHEN — Goshen played host to some very special guests this weekend with the arrival of 27 visitors from Goshen’s sister city, Bexbach, Germany. The group was in the area as part of a much larger tour of the United States.

The weekend visit to Goshen served as the sixth for group leader Udo Wittmer, who at the end of a Sunday picnic with Goshen hosts, happily declared the trip a resounding success.

“It was a very successful trip,” Wittmer said. “We are always very happy to stay here, and it was a very cordial reception from our hosts. A lot of us have close connections in Goshen because half of the group had been here for previous visits. So it has been great, just like all the trips before.”

The group arrived in Goshen Friday evening and were housed with host families.

Beginning Friday evening, the group was greeted with a welcoming dinner by their host families at the Shanklin Park pavilion. During the dinner, Bexbach’s mayor, Thomas Leis, was presented with a ceremonial Key to the City by Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, who himself played host for one of the visiting families over the weekend.

Saturday would prove the busiest day of the visit, with the group getting started with a visit to the Dutchmen RV complex, followed by a tour of the Historical Society Museum, shopping and lunch in downtown Goshen. Following lunch, the group then headed over to Shipshewana for a tour of the Menno-Hof Museum, followed by dinner at the Das Dutchman Essenhaus restaurant.

Deciding to take it a little easier on Sunday, many of the Bexbach visitors chose to attend church with their host families, which was followed by some free time to shop and explore. Sunday’s agenda then concluded with a laid back picnic at the home of host David Simmons, where visitors got to relax and share stories of their weekend experiences.

“It has been a really nice, pleasant visit,” said Carol Simmons, a Goshen resident who served as host for one of the visiting Bexbach families. “We’ve had a great time, and this picnic is kind of a nice way to conclude the visit. From what I’ve been told, they’re scheduled to get on the bus at Shanklin Park at 9:30 a.m. (today) to go back to Chicago, and then Tuesday they fly out to go back to Bexbach. So it has been a fun weekend.”

This weekend’s visit served as the first for Mathias Bauer, a Bexbach resident who lived with Simmons during the course of his Goshen stay.

“This is my first time here in Goshen, and my second time in America,” Mathias said as the picnic got started Sunday afternoon. “Goshen is very, very nice. It’s a beautiful town. And the weather is shining, and the people have been very friendly. I would come again if I have the chance.”

Leis, who was also visiting Goshen for the first time, was quick to agree.

“Everybody, everything in America seems a little bigger and a little bit better than a lot of things everywhere else,” Leis said when asked how Goshen compares to his hometown of Bexbach. “There are a lot of similar things, except on the road. Traffic is more hectic in Germany, because the streets are smaller, and people can drive as fast as they want. Here, it’s much slower. A slower pace. It’s wonderful.”


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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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