When 22 T.C. Williams High School students went to Dulles International Airport on March 13, to meet 22 students from Austria, they were strangers.
When they gathered at Dulles again on Monday, they said good-bye as friends and are looking forward to June, when the T.C. kids will travel to Austria.
"Cool people, cool places, best family," said Pascal.
One of the Austrian chaperones had a similar, but more subdued view. "The good connection between teachers and students is most important," said Horst Rittchen. "I been working with Adam Levine 11 years and the program works great."
T.C. student Matt Shadle enjoyed being a host, but is now looking forward to his trip to Austria. "It was a great experience. I can't wait to see what we're going to do over there and how much my view of the world changes," he said.
During their stay, the Austrian students lived with T.C. students and their families. They spent a weekend in New York, toured Williamsburg, spent a day at the Smithsonian museums, attended classes at T.C., went to the zoo, attended a Wizards game, played laser tag, visited the U.S. Naval Academy and shopped.
The Austrian students left with memories and plans for showing their country to their new American friends.
"Most important is the relationship the students build up with each other," said Austrian teacher Franz Pontilli.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to get to know American families."