Foreign exchange students react to American intruder drills


Jack Crayton

Junior Nils Krueger talks with a student during class. Krueger is from Germany and is not used to American intruder drills.

Recently, Parkway South and schools across the United States have been preparing their students for an intruder or possible threat to the school. This concept is brand new to many of South’s foreign exchange students. 

From the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to the 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, American high school students have become well acquainted with the intruder drill process. 

Over the last decade the United States has seen the most mass shootings out of any other country in the world. However, many foreign countries don’t even allow their citizens to legally own guns. 

This school year, some foreign exchange students walked into something they’ve never experienced before in their own country. 

Junior Nils Krueger came to South this year from Germany. He said intruder drills are unheard of in his country. 

“When the intruder alert came on the teacher yelled at us to be quiet and everyone wasn’t talking. It was weird and unusual to see,” he said. 

Krueger also said that in Germany there are little to no shootings–especially in schools.

“There have been one or two [mass shootings] in ten years, but not like it is in America,” he said. 

Germany does allow its citizens to own guns, but the requirements to do so are very strict. To purchase a gun in Germany, you must earn — usually over the course of several months — a certificate that proves you know how to handle both the weapon and its ammunition. You must prove that you can store it safely, in a place to which only you, as the owner, have access. You cannot acquire any shooting weapon until you are at least 18, and if you are under 25 you must undergo a psychological exam before being allowed to own a gun.

Krueger also stated that America has many more drills than they do in Germany and the only drills he did as a student in Germany were fire drills. 

It’s not only German schools that don’t have intruder drills, but Japanese schools don’t do them, either. Junior Yume Kashima is from Japan. Kashima talked about her first reactions to the intruder drills and also what it was like back in Japan for the students.

“At my school there’s no dying hair and no makeup. There’s no shootings and no intruder drills in Japan, just earthquake and tsunami drills,” she said. 

For years no one in Japan could legally own a gun or sword, but recently the laws have loosened. Now if Japanese people want to own a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test. Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation, which takes place at a hospital, and pass a background check, in which the government digs into their criminal record and interviews friends and family. They can only buy shotguns and air rifles — no handguns — and every three years they must retake the class and initial exam.

Kashima also talked about how she felt during her first time doing the drill here at South.

“I didn’t know what was going on at first and everything was a little weird to me,” she said.

Japan is a country of more than 127 million people, but it rarely sees more than 10 gun deaths a year–and no school shootings. 

Senior Natalie Hemmy said she is surprised that all countries don’t do intruder drills.

“I think that we should do them more, and not just in Ac. Lab, because people don’t know what to do in different parts of the school. Plus it wastes the time you have in Ac. Lab to do your work,” she said.