Most 16-year-olds would be apprehensive about leaving everything and everyone they know behind to go to a foreign country for a year.
But not Eidelynn Stagg.
“I spent a summer traveling all over the country with my grandparents when I was little and I loved it,” she said. “And I always have wanted to go outside the country to see more people and get a better understanding of where they live.”
In late March, Stagg learned that she had won the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, an all-expenses paid, full academic year stay in Germany.
Stagg, whose first name means “kindred spirit,” is bubbling over with excitement about her upcoming adventure.
“When I found out I’d gotten the scholarship, I think it was the first time in my life I squealed like a 3-year-old,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to the whole experience.”
Stagg was one of only 250 students across the United States accepted into the program.
German teacher Susan Lewallen, who has taught at WHS for 29 years, said it is worth noting that the school has sent a representative nearly every year since the program began in 1983.
“WHS students consistently grow and succeed through this program and Eidelynn’s two years of German (classes) will be a tremendous asset to her during her stay,” she said.
Stagg’s trip begins at the end of July with a one-week visit to Washington, D.C. After arriving in Germany, she will attend a four-week, intensive language immersion program. After meeting her host family, Stagg will attend the gymnasium (prep school) in that city.
“I don’t know and don’t care which city I’m going to because the whole area has such a rich history,” she said. “I love the food, the culture and the climate is pretty similar to here.”
When asked if she had any hesitations at all, Stagg said a firm, “no.”
“I am not apprehensive at all,” she said. “I can’t wait, I just want to enjoy my time there.”
Added Lewallen, “Eidelynn will be a great fit for the program. Intellectually, she will make the most of it. For her, new is not negative. She is willing to try different things.”
The original version of this article appeared in the Camas-Washougal Post-Record, May 10, 2011.