International Exchange Program
The Halle Exchange Keeps Atlanta Technical College on the Cutting Edge of the Global Marketplace
The exciting and captivating city of Atlanta has been dubbed by discoverourtown.com (a U.S. travel, tourism and relocation guide) as “The World’s Next Great International City.” With a colorful mixture of several nationalities that comprise the city’s demographic, statistics indicate that the city's racial diversity is greater than that of the nation as a whole. For a city in the Deep South that welcomed international neighbors almost 15 years ago for the 1996 Summer Olympics, that growing diversity speaks volumes.
Atlanta Technical College is an active change agent in the city’s life and landscape and reflects the city’s international spirit in its campus life and community. In 1997, while the city was still realizing the impact of the Olympic Games, the College began conversations with Felix-Fechenbach Berufskolleg in Detmold, Germany, that would ultimately lead to an international student exchange. A formal agreement between the two colleges was reached in 1998. Officially named the Halle Exchange in 2005, the Exchange is inspired by Mr. Claus Halle, one-time president of Coca-Cola Europe and native of Germany whose career was flanked by long standing support of international relations. To date, an estimated 200 students and faculty have participated as Atlanta Technical College delegates to Germany, and an estimated 170 students and faculty have participated as Felix-Fechenbach Berufskolleg (FFB) delegates to Atlanta, thus fortifying the program’s motto of “Living, Learning, and Working Together.”
The establishment of the Halle Exchange is evidence of Atlanta Technical College’s commitment to prepare its students for the global marketplace. “We are honored to have the opportunity to continue Mr. Halle’s mission ‘to expand understanding and respect among the peoples and nations around the world,’” states Atlanta Technical College’s president, Dr. Alvetta P. Thomas. She further adds, “I am proud of the Halle Exchange and its role in the life of the college and the lives of our staff and students. The opportunity to immerse our students in German culture is an invaluable addition to their experiential backgrounds and to the contributions that they prepare to make in their communities.”
Most recently, Halle Exchange delegates visited Germany in the fall of 2010. They enjoyed the traditional activities of the Exchange, including attending classes in their fields of study, participating in internships, living with German host families and participating in cultural activities. While in Germany, students and faculty discussed the impact that technical education has on international commerce with leaders of Industrie- und Handelskammer Lippe Zu Detmold (IHK), which is the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and discussed international affairs with Philip D. Murphy, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
In January 2011, members of the Felix Fechenbach delegation visited Atlanta and lived with the Atalnta Tech students. The group spent time with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, City Councilman Michael Bond, and Dr. Alfred Schlicht, German Deputy Consul General in Atlanta, discussing the importance of preparing for the global marketplace. They visited the State Capitol where they met with Governor Nathan Deal, Senator Vincent Fort, Senator Nan Orrock, and Representative Sheila Jones.
A key component of the Halle Exchange is workforce development. Halle Exchange participants traditionally participate in internship experiences in the program areas of mechanical engineering, carpentry, culinary arts, visual communications, medicine, childcare, cosmetology and electronics. In Germany, Atlanta Tech students worked for German corporations including AFV-Medien, Welle Möbel GmbH, Vital Hotel, Stiftung, S.O.S. Ausbildungstätte, Restaurant Lallmann, Klinikum and Digital Park. In Atlanta, the students from Detmold interned with the Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Sara Lee Corporation, Merritt Specialties and Construction, Habitat for Humanity, Dunbar Sheltering Arms Child Development Center, Harriet Tubman Elementary School, FIO 360, the Hyatt Regency, the Sheraton Airport, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and the Loews Hotel Atlanta, .
Accordingly, Dr. Thomas states, “The various experiences of the Halle Exchange provide exceptional opportunities for us to educate tomorrow’s workforce in a globalized world. The many students, faculty, and staff members who are members of the Halle delegations past and future are proof that, because of the Halle Exchange, communication is a little clearer, cultures are a little less in conflict, and the oceans that separate us are a little smaller.”