Rio Rancho seen through the fresh eyes of foreign students

Mayor Gregg Hull and a German foreign exchange student vote “democracy” style for the next person to pose in the Mayor’s seat on June 29.

The City of Vision and Mayor Gregg Hull welcomed 21 teens from Germany on June 29, marking the 20th year Eleonore Kluge has brought students ages 13-17 to Rio Rancho from that country.

Indistinguishable from the American host families’ teens — most sporting iPhones and the freshest clothing fad — those from Germany were most recognizable by the questions they posed to Hull.

To a commoner, a few of the questions sounded comical, but all gave listeners the opportunity to see our city through foreign eyes.

“Why are the buildings this ‘sandy’ color?” a girl who said she was from Frankfurt asked.

“Can the drinking age be lowered?” a boy inquired.

He said the drinking age in Germany was 16.

Hull answered these and many other questions.

The young tourists also learned about Rio Rancho’s government, history and size, water sources and animals, and the area Pueblos.

The program, Education-Friendship, Language and Culture, was started by Kluge after an exchange with Rio Rancho High School around 20 years ago, Kluge said. Since then, she said, she has felt a strong bond between New Mexico and Germany.

“New Mexico has a great climate and great families with warm hearts,” she said.

The three-week excursion allows the teens and host families to participate in a variety of activities all over the state.

This year’s itinerary includes White Sands National Monument, Taos river rafting, Tent Rocks, the Rio Rancho Fourth of July parade, Chaco Canyon, theatre workshops and, for the last few days, touring the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, Nev.

When asked about the most interesting thing New Mexico has revealed, one teen answered simply, “the food.”