Two Plateau students are gearing up to say, “Auf wiedersehen, Enumclaw — hallo Deutchland!”
Daisy Roberts, a junior at White River High School, and Charlotte Miller, a sophomore from Enumclaw High, have been selected to travel to Germany for a year-long student exchange program with ASSE International.
The program, known as the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship Program (or the CBYX program), only selects 250 students from across the nation to receive this “prestigious” scholarship, an ASSE International press release reads.
Roberts and Miller will be leaving home this August and spending a year abroad with a host family in Germany until June 2022, when they will return to the Plateau. While overseas, the two will continue their high school graduation in a German school, but will also have the opportunity to meet with both U.S. Congressional Representatives and German Bundestag (parliament) members, as the goal of the CBYX program is to foster better relationships between countries through its youth ambassadors.
Both students are, perhaps unsurprisingly, ecstatic about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I’m excited to see everything and hear everything and meet new people, because I feel like American people and German people are very different, and I’m excited to see why they’re different — not just stereotypes I hear from movies or books,” Roberts said.
“I’m excited for everything,” Miller said, adding that the thing she’s most looking forward to is “forming new relationships with people, especially with my host family.”
DIFFERENT PATHS, SAME DESTINATION
Some may spend years preparing for an opportunity like this; others, of course, may just wing it.
Both are the case when it comes to these Plateau students.
Miller, 15, has extensive experience with hosting exchange students, with her family having hosted three (two from Germany, one from Tunisia) since she was in middle school.
“Watching them and seeing their experiences, the relationships that they formed and the relationships that our family formed with them — I really want that, too,” Miller said. “I want to go experience that. That would be really cool.”
She’s also already been to Germany, having spent a few weeks there in the 7th grade.
“It felt like home, almost. So I want to go back there,” she continued. “I want to live there someday.”
It was these combined experiences that led Miller to start learning German in high school and eventually apply for the CBYX program.
Roberts, on the other hand, is diving head-first into this program, having little travel experience and even less knowledge of the German language. However, none of those facts seem to phase her, or do anything to blunt her enthusiasm.
“I really want to experience another culture, not just as a tourist — I feel like as a tourist, I wouldn’t get very much out of it,” Roberts said. “But if I was to live there, I could really experience and see other people’s point of views and how other people live. That’s what I’m interested in.”
She has been teaching herself German, though when she finds time to learn another language is a bit of a mystery; on top of attending White River High and being a Running Start student at Pierce College, Roberts is also a local boy scout, a Tacoma sea scout, and is heavily involved in FFA.
Roberts even plans to finish up her high school graduation requirements over the summer before she leaves, so that all the classes she’ll be taking at the German school will be just electives.
Both Roberts and Miller will likely attend what’s known in Germany as a Gymnasium — a kind of school akin to prep schools in the U.S., heavily-focused on academics.
Miller is expecting to have to repeat her junior year back here in the U.S., in part because of the language barrier.
“Having to comprehend that and do assignments, it’s going to be very hard,” she said. “Nothing is going to make sense for the first little while.”
While Miller is nervous about the language barrier, she hopes that a love of food and cooking will help her get close to her host family by introducing some American cuisine, like pie and chili.
“I really, really like cooking dinners for my family, and baking, so I’m hoping to bring some of that to my family and if they don’t do it already, bake together and cook together and share and be open,” she said.
Miller has already met her host family, but Roberts has yet to find hers.
“I wouldn’t mind if I had host siblings… I think it would be cool to have siblings, because then I’d have people who were forced to be my friends,” she joked.
While this student exchange trip is certainly the highlight of the next year, Roberts has a lot more to look forward too as well. As a sea scout, she was accepted into a program that’ll allow her to sail with first-year Coast Guard cadets from the coast of Maine to Connecticut right before she leaves to Germany.
And, after Germany, she’ll be spending another three weeks in Australia for another student exchange program to study marine biology.
“I didn’t expect to get to into any of [these programs], and I got into all of them, so now I’m just really busy!” she said.
BECOME A HOST FAMILY
When Roberts and Miller leave for Germany this August, there will also be a group of German CBYX scholarship students arriving to live with American host families while attending high school in the USA.
Students and families interested in receiving more information about hosting a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship winner from Germany should call 1-800-333-3802 or visit ASSE’s website at www.asse.com.