We are pleased to announce Tabea Mailander as the December 2022 CBYX German Participant of the Month! Tabea, a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Young Professional participant placed by Cultural Vistas, is hosted by the Selman family in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Tabea is engaging with several organizations and events in her host community. She helps out in the food bank at the New Hope Community Center and is grateful for the opportunity to help people there. At the Four Peaks Oktoberfest, Tabea volunteered at a food stand and noted that it was “interesting because the food Americans think of as German are different” than what she eats at home. Even though some things (like putting sauerkraut on sausages) seemed strange to her, she’ll give it a try. She also volunteers with the Mesa Sister Cities Committee – a group that organizes exchanges with Mesa’s sister cities in Mexico, China, and New Zealand. When a group from Mesa’s Sister City of Guaymas, Mexico visited her community on Dia de los Muertos, Tabea, who resided in Mexico for a couple of years as a child, volunteered to interpret for the Mayor of Guaymas and was instrumental in the events.
Through her volunteer work, Tabea has many opportunities to talk about Germany, and she is constantly surprised by how many people have an existing connection to her home country. She also shares her culture with her host family who also has a special interest in her home country: her host father spent several years in Germany with the U.S. Air Force and her host sister recently took part in a short-term exchange with the German American Partnership Program (GAPP). Her host family enjoys learning about the Swabia region of Southern Germany, particularly the foods Tabea prepares such as donauwelle (a tasty cake) and schnitzel. For Christmas, she plans on making zwiebelrostbraten, a Swabian specialty. This cultural exchange through food goes both ways, and she enjoys trying her host family’s mac and cheese and backyard smoked-meat tacos.
Tabea is also fully embracing U.S. holidays. For Halloween, she and her host siblings dressed up as the Scooby-Doo gang. To ensure she fully experienced Halloween, her host siblings even took her trick-or-treating.
Whether exploring local nature on hikes with her host siblings or simply sharing a meal at the end of the day, Tabea continues to build a close relationship with her host family. When asked about her favorite experience in the United States, she explains that “having a second family here at the other end of the world – that’s what I enjoy most!” Tabea’s host family similarly speaks highly of her, and they stress that “she has been the reason this cultural exchange has been such a wonderful experience for us all. She listens so well, shares her perspective, anticipates a new adventure, and most of all has touched the hearts of our whole family” – no wonder they plan on visiting her soon after she returns to Germany.