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School friendship stretches oceans and years

School friendship stretches oceans and years

It was the 17th of June 1990 that 17-year-old Uta Pohlschmidt arrived in Orange for the first time as a young exchange student from Germany.

Living with the Cummins Family, Uta spent just ten weeks attending Orange High School, but the impact of that trip has lasted three decades.

“We’ve stayed friends because of the exchange program,” said Kathy Cummins, who, because of Uta’s visit, was inspired to herself, go experience life in another country.

“I applied to go back to Germany on the same exchange program and didn't get it, but then I just decided to go and do my own exchange.”

So, following high school, Kathy went over and spent several months living with Uta's family and the friends have caught up regularly ever since.

For the past 15 years, Kathy has been living in Cameroon, doing mission work, but makes time to visit Uta when in Europe.

“For my children this has been very good to see,” said Uta. “There have always have been people like Kathy coming regularly so they realise that it is good to know languages… our children have to learn at least two foreign languages if they want to finish high school, so to see that they really can use it; it makes sense to them to put that effort in.”

The visit to Orange was just the start of the holiday for Uta’s family, but she said it has been a great experience for her family to get a taste of day-to-day life in Australia just as she did.

“I was here on a ten-week program and the idea was you would spend time with people and get to know everyday life which I always find is the most interesting anyway. So that's why I'm really grateful for this week here; to see the sights in Sydney is not as interesting to me as being here, talking about things and having a good time.”

When Orange City Life caught up with Kathy and Uta, they had been busy pouring over old photo albums of their adventures together.

“It has been an amazing trip down memory lane,” said Kathy. “To look back at these things and see how many experiences we've had together in our lives and, as I said to Uta, they’ve still got to come and visit us in Cameroon so there’s other adventures to be had.

“We hope it is not over yet and our kids will continue to go visit each other and visit us.”

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