By James Culshaw

S6 pupil

Peebles High School

Durch Musik haben wir uns angefreundet.

This is the German for “we made friends through music”, which is exactly what Peebles High School pupils did last week when we welcomed back our friends from the Ursulinengymnasium Werl in North-West Germany.

As the Germans settled in with their host families on Sunday, we prepared for the challenging but enjoyable week ahead.

On Monday we got straight down to business, with a full day of rehearsals.

Tuesday saw a wide cultural engagement, with the Germans spending the afternoon on an historical tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town and then a movie night where we watched the moving film Bohemian Rhapsody, documenting the life and work of the great Freddie Mercury.

Following more successful rehearsals and ceilidh dance practice on Wednesday, many of us took the opportunity to enjoy the Beltane celebrations and parades taking place that evening.

On Thursday afternoon, we were treated to an outing to Traquair House where, after successfully navigating the famous maze, we were fascinated to learn about the building and its huge significance in Scotland’s history.

Friday saw both the Scots and the Germans enjoying lunch with spectacular views over eastern Scotland after a successful ascent of Arthur’s Seat, followed by free time in Edinburgh.

Many of us took this time to show our German friends around Scotland’s capital city and enjoy an ice-cream, given the glorious weather.

Undoubtedly, the high point of the week was Saturday night’s concert, and thanks to the exceptional work of the music teachers from both schools, it was a resounding success, featuring Queen’s rousing Don’t Stop Me Now, Michael Nyman’s Time Lapse, Revolting Children from the musical Matilda, performances by the jazz band, and the mighty Maiden Scotland ceilidh band arrangement of Iron Maiden tunes.

To top it all, we ended the evening with Runrig’s Loch Lomond, a song which has become an informal icon of the exchange. We were delighted to see Mr. Wilson’s attendance and participation in the staff band singing a rendition of David Bowie’s Starman.

Having the day to recover on Sunday, we were treated to a first-class ceilidh that evening to celebrate the end of the exchange.

Many thanks to Glenda Barton and Elodie Sellar for co-ordinating the delicious food provided by parents.

Monday saw the departure of our German friends back to Werl and many tears fell.

We cannot wait for the PHS return visit to Werl in September 2020 to create more music and memories.

Through this exchange, we have made new friends, both Scottish and German, who will stay with us long into the future.

We would like to thank our music department for signing a partnership agreement with the Ursulinengymnasium Werl which will protect the exchange, regardless of what the politicians on either side of the Channel may decide.