Over the last few weeks the other students and I have been preparing for presentations that we would make at an Austrian Gymnasium, which is basically the equivalent to an American high school.

The first day we presented on the American economy. Although this isn’t one of my favorite topics to discuss, it was interesting to go back and see how much I remembered from my economy class a year ago. The Austrian students (17 to 18 years old), were also required to give a presentation on their own economic system. While we generally spoke in English, they also spoke in German, so sometimes I had a hard time understanding the concepts, but some of the overall differences in our economies were exciting to learn about.

The class dynamic was also fun to observe. Like any high school class, the kids had a hard time sitting and concentrating for a long time. This particular class was mostly boys (only six girls out of around fifteen boys), so the class, as you can imagine, was extra restless.

The second day we presented on the American political system. This was exciting to talk about, because the election is so close. We went over how our electoral system works, showed them our ballots, and also showed them some of the political ads run by the candidates. We also discussed the different “winning” scenarios for each candidate with a fun graphic that explains the system really well. Afterwards, we answered any questions the students had. Naturally, the boys were really interested in our drug and gun laws, which are very different from Austria’s.

By the second day we noticed a trend in the way the class was run. We would have one, maybe two, presentations and then the students would be clamouring for a break! It was like this both days and they couldn’t seem to last without a break at least every hour. It’s become a joke in our group that we must always have a Pause for a Jause, which in German rhymes and in English means a break for a snack.

Although we only spent two days with the class, it felt really good to teach kids and for the most part they were all interested in learning. It was a great two days!