The German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State are pleased to announce Elisabet Saveraid as the October Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) U.S. Participant of the Month! Elisabet, a CBYX Vocational Program participant from Saint Paul, Minnesota and recruited by Nacel Open Door, is hosted by the Witziok family in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia.
Elisabet lived in Zurich, Switzerland for a year as a child, and when her family moved back to the United States, they chose to continue her bilingual education. In her final year at the Twin Cities German Immersion School, she participated in a German American Partnership Program exchange, which gave her a taste of German culture and school life. She continued studying German at Saint Paul Central High School where her German teacher encouraged her to apply for the CBYX program. Elisabet, who was interested in taking a gap year in between high school and college, thought the program was a great opportunity. She explains, “It gives you the opportunity to see the world in a different way and understand different perspectives.” She continues, “It’s also a great way to transition to college. You are more independent than you’d be at home, but you have some structure and familiarity by living with a host family.”
Elisabet has become very close with her host family – especially her host mother. They have bonded quickly, and Elisabet has enjoyed family responsibilities like taking the dogs, Mino and Timo, for a walk to a nearby field. She appreciates all that her host family does for her and tries to show her appreciation by baking banana bread for them, and helping them whenever she can. Her host mother has described having Elisabet in their home as a “great gift.”
As part of her CBYX program, Elisabet has spent two months at a language camp in Germany. While not in language class, she has been keeping quite busy! Elisabet and two other CBYX vocational participants, Ariel and Katie, participated in the Zero Hunger Run race. Elisabet says, “It was fun because I’ve done similar races before and it was a familiar setting, but there were also elements of German culture incorporated that were unexpected and fun.” For example, at the end of her 10K race, Elisabet was surprised to find beer and brӧtchen, or German bread rolls.
During language camp, her peers selected Elisabet as one of two presidents for her cohort. She says, “I was honored and surprised.” She gets along well with her co-president who had never studied German. She adds, “I think it’s important to show that you can be successful on program whether you have prior German knowledge or not.”
Elisabet is moving to her permanent placement in a more rural German community soon and is looking forward to meeting her long-term host family. They are involved in their church, and she hopes to join the church choir to get to know people in her new community. Her host siblings also like volleyball, so she may try that, but she is open to trying any of her host family’s interests.
After her program, Elisabet is planning to go to nursing school and hopes to use this year to explore internships in women’s health care and possibly baking, which she enjoys doing in her spare time.