The interchange was arranged by Kylie Webb, a Gilbertsville native and 2018 graduate of Boyertown High. Webb graduated from Salisbury University in 2022 with a degree in Exercise Science. Following graduation, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) for the Czech Republic.
Webb was placed at two different secondary (roughly ages 15-20) technical schools with the Czech abbreviation, “ESOZ Chomutov,” to teach English for a year. One school specializes in nursing and social work, the other in firefighting, electromechanical engineering, and police work.
Here in the US, Eastern Berks personnel on the exchange included Chief Mike Mutter, President and Assistant Chief Scott Reitnauer, Former Assistant Chief Matt Bakes, Jeremy Wozniak and Paul Bartlett. Among the five, they have more than 175 total years of experience in emergency services.
The Czech students and Eastern Berks firefighters asked questions and exchanged information about training, equipment, protective clothing, and apparatus in each country. Then the Czech students were treated to a tour of the Bally station and the department’s Rescue Engine, Tanker, Brush Truck and Utility.
Webb said the point of the program is a cultural exchange between the US and whichever country is chosen, hers being the Czech Republic. She notes that she has had many opportunities and new experiences while she’s been in Chomutov, and it’s been quite a journey.
“Teaching English to the students, meeting the teachers, and making new friends is something I am very grateful for all while traveling the world and being immersed in Czech culture.” When she returns home at the end of June, she’ll be attending the University of Pittsburgh for a master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics.
Firefighters from both countries agreed that it was a great experience.