Friendships formed in Zululand through exchange programme

Forming close friendships and bonds are Saskia Lehnhardt, Shalomé Landman, Marlies Brandstdätter and Sarah Giles PHOTO: Richard Springorum

OUT of all the countries in the world, Austria’s Marlies Brandstdätter and Germany’s Saskia Lehnhardt chose South Africa to spend their six weeks abroad on a Rotary exchange programme.

The landed on Empangeni’s doorstep and were welcomed into the Giles and Landman family homes for their brief stay while attending St Catherine’s school.

Since schools are closed in Vienna, Marlies decided to experience South Africa without interrupting her final year of schooling back home.

She has been placed in the Grade 11 class alongside Sarah Giles.

Saskia on the other hand, who hails from Kaassel, was placed in the Grade 9 class alongside Shalomé Landman.

The open minded girls who love travelling, said that they chose South Africa owing to it’s beautiful landscape, diverse cultures, alternative lifestyle and delicious cuisine.

Both speak fluent English and quickly fitted in the laid back Zululand lifestyle and have experienced a lot thanks to their host families.

Marlies, who is due back to Austria on 14 August, has already been to uShaka Marine World, stayed in her host families beach cottage on the South Coast, visited Durban, made friends at Solid Ground Church and has been on a game drive.

ALSO READ: Youth exchange programme a life changer

‘We still plan on taking her to Mozambique, the Drakensburg and to the matric dance before she leaves,’ said Sarah Giles.

The sporty Austrian who also plays the piano and attends a dance school back home, told the Zululand Observer that samp and beans was her favourite South African meal.

Saskia has already been involved with AWOL, been to reptile city, the cheetah park, the bird park, Oribi Gorge, on a hunting trip and game drive.

‘AWOL was an amazing project to get involved in. I was lucky enough to help out at the burn unit in one of the local hospitals. To see that aspect of the country was priceless,’ said Saskia.

She loves running and does ballet back at home and says her favourite South African dish was malva pudding.

Come December the roles will reverse and Sarah will go to Austria for six weeks to stay with Marlies and her family, with Shalomé going to Germany to stay with Saskia and her family for six weeks.

Anyone interested in the Short Term Rotary Exchange Programme can contact Denise Brook on 083 3246045.


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Richard Springorum
Sport Reporter

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