American participants of the 2020-2021 Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program continue to build connections between the U.S. and Germany through a variety of virtual exchange activities
Through the virtual host family exchange component of the program, American CBYX high school participant Pamela Green continues to form a strong relationship with her German host sister, Nici. Pamela invited Nici to join a meeting of her high school’s German Club. During the lively virtual get-together, Nici shared information about her daily life and responded to many questions from Pamela’s American peers about German culture. Pamela stated that “Even though we never met in person, it still feels like I have a sister hundreds of miles away.”
Creativity and innovation are in no short supply. American CBYX high school participant Nikolai Kutsch dreamed of experiencing Christmas time in Germany. Heartbroken that he would not be able to travel to Germany this winter, he created a virtual “Transatlantic Winterfest.” He transformed a room in his home into a winter wonderland and encouraged guests to bring a Christmas treat to the celebration. His German host family made “Bratapfel,” a special German dish of baked apples filled with custard and nuts. “I could almost smell it through the screen!” Nikolai recalls. Despite not being able to experience this in-person, Nikolai says that he was “overjoyed that my German/American Christmas dreams came true after all thanks to this special virtual program!”
CBYX vocational participant Ella Griffith communicates regularly with her German host family, who hail from Köln. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, they learned about the history and culture surrounding the holidays in each country. They have found differences and similarities in American and German daily life, school systems, and the pandemic response. Soon Ella and her German host family plan to take each other on video tours of their communities.
CBYX American young professionals Anastasia Kallish and Michael Thompson are using their intercultural curiosity and leadership skills to build strong relationships with their CBYX peers. These enterprising young citizen diplomats organize a weekly virtual German-language meet-up called a “Stammtisch.” During these sessions, American and German Young Professional participants exchange opinions on a variety of topics and build lasting relationships with each other. The sessions also allow the American participants to strengthen their German language skills, supplementing the CBYX Goethe Institute German language courses.
The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange is a joint program of the U.S. Government and German Bundestag.
The original version of this article can be found on the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website, here.