Heilbronn, West Germany — Taking a class of first-graders to a fire station is not new --servicewomen to a German fire station in Germany has some interesting new wrinkles. All my first-graders at the Department of Defense American School here read, write, and speak English, but some of them are also fluent in a second language they speak at home: Two children speak Korean, one child speaks Vietnamese, two children speak Spanish, and three children speak German.
Because the red fire engine has universal appeal, my class was thrilled and excited to visit our nearby fire station.
We arrived at the fire station and were greeted by Evald Blind, who started right in explaining everything to us in German.
I caught the gist of what Herr Blind said when he pointed to the water hose, which was hanging from a tall tower, where it was drying. (Careful drying of the thick hose prevents rotting.)
Later we learned that German fire trucks not only carry water to a fire, but also have extensive hose lines, because German fire hydrants are spaced far apart.
After a thorough inside tour, Herr Blind directed us all outside, where he permitted the children to take turns sitting in the back seat of the biggest fire truck.
I took pictures after which we said, "Auf Wiedersehen," and "Vielen dank."
Our next special treat came in the mess hall at Wharton Barracks, where Sergeant Woody treated all of us to freshly baked cookies and a big glass of milk.
We learned a lesson beyond that of firefighting; we now better understood the reasons for and advantages of learning the German language, since we all now live in Germany.
Ever since our class took this field trip together, everyone has been more enthusiastic about learning German words from our host nation teacher, Mr. MacDougall, who comes to our classroom twice a week for one half hour.
One mother, Mrs. Sullivan, who is a volunteer aid twice a week, writes down the German words that Mr. MacDougall teaches our class, so she can help her own daughter learn German.
Our class wrote these chart stories about our visit to the fire station. We walked to the fire station. Wir sind zur Feuerwehrwache gegangen. We saw a big red fire truck. Wir haben einen grossen roten Feuerwagen gesehen. We all sat inside the big red fire truck. Wir sassen alle im grossen roten feuerwagen. It was fun. Es war viel Spass. The fireman, Herr Blind, talked to us in German. Der Feuerwehrmann, Herr Blind, hat mit us auf deutsch gesprochen. He used sign language, too! Er hat auch Fingersprache benutzt!
Editor's note: We asked Monitor staff member Ruth Walker to translate the first-graders' chart story into German for interested Monitor readers.m