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Students share journey through pictures





Like most tourists, Fort Hays State University sophomore Mary McDermott took plenty of snapshots while studying in Germany last summer.

McDermott used her photos to create drawings on watercolor paper using ink washes and an ink pen, a technique she learned in one of her graphic design classes.

Her drawings -- along with photos and souvenirs from others who have made the trip -- have been gathered into a display called "Discovering Deutschland" this month in the Hays Public Library gallery.

Most of McDermott's drawings are from Essen, but some capture her trips to Berlin and Amsterdam.

"We just got on a bus and went to Amsterdam for a day and took the bus back," she said.

McDermott admits it took her a little time to adjust to the German culture, but after about a week, she felt comfortable grocery shopping and chatting with others on public transportation.

A graphic design major, she studied German at Maize High School.

"We had to take at least one foreign language class," McDermott said. "I liked it, so I stuck with it, and took four German classes."

McDermott was one of 15 students who took advantage of a four-week student exchange program at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Students are responsible for their airfare, meals and additional spending money during the trip. There is no charge for a private room with bath, public transportation pass and trips and excursions. Participants earn six credit hours transferable to FHSU and have free time to travel on their own.

As the first recipient of the Avi Kempinski memorial scholarship, McDermott received $1,800 to help with costs.

After the trip to Germany, she's planning to minor in German.

Hanna Luecking, a student at Essen, is one of four German students spending the semester at FHSU as part of the exchange.

"People made it really easy for us to settle in," she said.

The program, open to students of any major, is part of a partnership between FHSU and the Duisburg-Essen University created by Avi Kempinski.

Derek Kandt, president of the newly reformed German Club, was one of the first to take advantage of the exchange program in 2011.

"It's a great opportunity. I really enjoyed the culture and language," Kandt said.

Kempinski, an FHSU language professor, died in 2012. The scholarship fund was established in his memory to continue his vision of providing FHSU students the opportunity to travel.

Olga Detrixhe, the first FHSU exchange student from Germany, came to FHSU in 2009. She completed her master's degree in English and stayed in Hays.

"When I came over, he was the one who made it all happen," she said of Kempinski.

She worked as a German tutor, and got to know Kempinski well.

"That's why I'm personally invested in this."

For more information about the program, contact avikempinskifund@gmail.com.