‘I just love America’

Rotary’s German exchange student a junior at Webb School

“I just love America,” German Rotary Youth Exchange student Antonia Schmitz-Peiffer told Rotary Club of Farragut members during their regular noon meeting in Fox Den Country Club Wednesday, Jan. 9.

“I love my stay here,” Schmitz-Peiffer added. “I have wonderful host families … I made a lot of my friends at my school who will be friends for life.

“I’ve never been to America before I came here. I love it here.”

Schmitz-Peiffer, 17, from Dresden, Germany, is spending the 2018-2019 school year as a junior at Webb School of Knoxville, where she plays flute in the school’s pep band.

“I’m leaving next summer after school,” she said.

Schmitz-Peiffer is taking turns living with three host families: Paul and Cindy Kraus and their son, Cole Kraus, a 10th-grader at Webb; Christian and Brigitte Kunz; and Maggie Reynolds.

What Schmitz-Peiffer said she misses the most is her bicycle, which is her main form of transportation at home, where public trams, buses and trolleys also are available.

“If I want to go somewhere I just ride my bike,” she said.

Germany has a population of 83 million, while her hometown, Dresden, which is in the state of Saxony, has a population of more than 500,000, said Schmitz-Peiffer, who attends St. Benno-Gymnasium high school in Dresden.

The Webb junior said she will have to repeat her junior year when she returns to Germany, but she said her trip to America “is worth it.”

Schmitz-Peiffer also spoke about German leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

She also showed photographs of Dresden landmarks, such as a church that was rebuilt after World War II.

“We have a lot of churches in Germany,” she said, adding there are castles nearby.

Schmitz-Peiffer also spoke about German housing.

“We have a lot of houses where you have an apartment in there, so it’s not often that you own a house, and so we have houses where more families live in there,” she said.