A TANNER story

An exchange through the eyes of a host parent

“She even said Mummy and Daddy to us.”

What is family? Relatives, closeness, emotional ties? To mark International Family Day, Freudenberg tells the story of a family that reaches beyond countries and cultures.

A quick introduction to the Weis family from near Hamburg. Father, Niels Christian Weis is an Area Sales Manager at Freudenberg Medical in Kaiserslautern, his wife Tanja, daughter Nina-Madeleine, and son Nick-Lennart. The outgoing family has friends all over the world and loves the inter-cultural opportunities offered by TANNER, the youth exchange program for children of employees. Both their children had already spent a year in the USA before their daughter Nina traveled to India with TANNER and son Nick ventured to Australia. Inspired by the opportunities the exchange program offered, the Weis family decided to host children of other Freudenberg employees on four occasions. 

Family Weis and their visitor (from left to right): Nick-Lennart, Nina-Madeleine, father Niels, guest daughter Milena and mother Tanja.

One was Milena from Brazil, who visited the Weis family over Christmas and New Year 2016. The family did everything they could to make sure their guest’s experience was unique: Together, they visited Hamburg, Lübeck, the Baltic Sea and Berlin. Milena stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with tears of joy in her eyes.

TANNER is like getting siblings from all over the world,” says Nina when talking about Milena who was like a sister to her at that time. “An unbelievably beautiful friendship arose in those two weeks.” This was how - during an eight-month “short trip around the world” - Nina came to visit Milena in Brazil where she had a second TANNER experience. The Brazilian girl’s family welcomed her with open arms: “Milena’s family returned the gift my family had given her.” Nina and Milena looked for - and found each other. Niels Weis sees it the same way: “I am certain this friendship will last a very long time.” 

She was like a daughter for Niels and Tanja Weis. “Later, she even called us Mummy and Daddy.” When the family recalls the memories during the time spent together, their eyes light up. “Emotionally, an absolute plus,” says Tanja Weis and laughs.  Milena still sends Christmas presents today, writes when there’s a birthday and even sends a card on Mother’s and Father’s Day. The exchange was the nicest one for the family - the farewell the most difficult.

“We had so many good times with the children visiting us,” says Tanja Weis. “If you open your heart and home, you have the chance to get to know these children’s culture. TANNER enriched our family and we would do it again any time.” Dad, Niels, also sees TANNER as being closely linked to family: “In those fourteen days, you are a family for the visiting children. There is a difference between traveling and living with a family.” And the exchange program aims to get to know a culture from the inside.


Youth Exchange Program



From Germany to India

An unusual friendship