German Participant of the Month – November 2023

We are pleased to announce Lena Rehder as the November 2023 CBYX German Participant of the Month! Lena, a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) high school participant placed by AFS, is hosted by the Woodward family in Ringoes, New Jersey.

Lena is keeping busy by sharing her German culture, volunteering, and joining clubs at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. She gave a presentation about German culture, traditions, and history and plans to give more presentations to German classes at her school. She volunteers with her host mom and sister at a shelter for rescued farm animals. She also joined drama club and looks forward to acting in the school’s performance of Inherit the Wind.

One of Lena’s favorite moments from her exchange experience so far was when her host family took her to Princeton her first week in the United States. As she was walking through the town eating ice cream with her host family, she realized she was living her dream. She adds, “I couldn’t believe I was in the United States having an amazing time surrounded by people who are so good to me. I won’t forget that moment – it actually started to rain, but I didn’t care because I was so happy.”

While she misses her family in Germany, Lena already feels that the United States is home. She especially feels this way at dinner time when the family all gathers to spend time with each other. Every day, when she finishes her homework and goes downstairs to join her host family for dinner, she looks forward to spending quality time with them. Lena especially looks forward to dinner on Taco Tuesdays – a new favorite food and tradition of hers. She also enjoyed sharing Oma’s Apfelkuchen, or Grandma’s Apple Cake, for her host family using a recipe that was passed down from her grandmother to her mother and now to Lena. Lena also had the opportunity to meet her host sister, Lillian, in Germany. Lillian is currently in Germany participating in the CBYX program and is our U.S. Participant of the Month.

Lena is having many memorable experiences. She recently went to a pumpkin carving event organized by AFS volunteer staff for exchange students in her area. Lena is grateful for everyone that helps make the CBYX program possible and shares, “I have a feeling that I have people to rely on whatever happens. My success isn’t just about me – people like my host family and AFS’ local volunteers are the ones who make the program amazing.”

When asked what she would share with people considering the CBYX program, she says, “Do it! No only will you have wonderful experiences and make unique memories, but you will also make contacts all over the world, your worldview will change, and stereotypes you have will dissolve.”

Congratulations, Lena!