The Arts
Angie Newman Johnson Gallery

International Friends Return to The Holy Hill

For almost three decades, Episcopal has participated in the Austrian exchange program alongside the Theresianum. It started in 1995 as a collaboration by EHS teacher Dr. Rick Dixon and Theresianum Professor Fritz Tiefenbrunner from Vienna, Austria. The two educators initially designed the exchange to connect Episcopal’s German learners and Theresianum's English learners in their nation’s respective capitals. Every year, a group from each school visited the other for two weeks. The Austrians went to the Kennedy Center, toured the National Mall and Monuments, and joined our students in classes, on dorm, and throughout campus life. Some years, the Austrians visited in the fall and witnessed Spirit Weekend, an event they had only ever conceived of in films. 

This year, 12 Austrian students visited in late March, staying on dorm with their host partners, shadowing classes, and visiting D.C. in the afternoons. When asked what EHS staple they’d like to bring home to the Theresianum, the number one answer was “the bagel station!” The students also noted how “active and enthusiastic” EHS faculty members are and the care they take for their students.  

“For nearly 30 years, our two schools have shared a vibrant exchange of language and culture, where students have developed lifelong friendships, seen amazing sights in brand new places, and had truly life-changing experiences,” said Frau Prof. Ellington ’03. As an alumna of the exchange, Ellington knows how impactful the program can be. “Every time I’ve returned to Vienna, I’ve visited the Theresianum and reconnected with those friends. It’s been over 20 years since we first met, and we’re still close.” 

In June, 10 Episcopal students, German teacher Frau Professor Hannah Ellington and math teacher Lionel Rauth, will go to Vienna to visit their new friends at the Theresianum. EHS students will experience a night at the opera — a must-do in “the city of music,” visit the famous Schönbrunn palace, learn to make apple strudel, and practice their German.