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YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

German Exchange Student Experiences American High School Spirit


Most Americans know Iowa for its agriculture. However, to Youth For Understanding (YFU) student Michael von Hohnhorst (far right), community spirit and high school activities are what make Iowa truly memorable.

Michael is an YFU Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Scholarship winner who has just finished his program in Nora Springs, Iowa.

Although Michael was not initially too thrilled about the cornfields and landscape, he described everything about his exchange program as very good.

Michael stepped out from his comfort zone by participating in the school musical and taking his first cooking class. He even tried to cook some American and authentic German dishes for his host family.

“They liked my cooking, but of course they preferred American dishes.”

During Michael’s exchange program, he was very active in school and was fearless to try new activities and also played wrestling and football. He devoted a lot of time in these two sports and experienced the strong community and team spirit from partaking in the games.

“I liked seeing team work and the strong school and community spirit. Everyone in the community would go to the games.”

Michael described his wrestling experience as especially tough when cutting weight while everyone enjoyed good food during Christmas.

“Although the training was tough, it was great to learn the culture.”

Michael found out about the CBYX Scholarship from his dad and his schoolmates who were the recipients in the past.

Although the application process took Michael a long time with all the required essays, interviews, and group debates with other candidates, he still believes it is worth applying for the scholarship.

“I would recommend this program. Under the CBYX Scholarship I felt like being more than just an exchange student. I had a special mission like an ambassador of Germany. I can give something back afterward.”

Since 1983 more than 17,000 students have received the CBYX scholarship, which is funded jointly by both the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag. Winners receive a full scholarship to study in the United States or Germany and stay with a host family for a year.

Youth For Understanding (YFU) is a non-profit international educational organization with programs in 64 countries and is one of the world's oldest, largest, and most respected exchange organizations. To learn more about hosting an exchange student, contact 1.866.4.YFU.USA (1.866.493.8872).

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