Graduating Eden student earns full scholarship to study in Germany for an entire school year
Patterson, the son of Adam and Amy Smith of Eden, was recently awarded a full scholarship through the U.S. State Department funded Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program to study a full academic year at a German high school.
“This is such an opportunity, to totally immerse oneself in another culture,” Patterson said.
Although not of German descent, Patterson decided in sixth grade that he wanted to study German.
“I wanted a challenge and I felt studying German would be interesting for me,” he said.
According to Kerstin Crinnin, Eden’s German teacher, Patterson became interested in the program when Dagmar Freitag, a member of the German Parliament representing Iselon, Germany, visited the school a year ago to encourage students to participate in the exchange.
Through the Congress-Bundenstag Youth Exchange, there is an exchange of 500 students, 250 from both countries, who go to various geographic areas of the host country to study for one year.
The American Field Service USA handles the program for the North Eastern United States, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
“I am one of three students chosen from Western New York,” Patterson said.
“I can’t even begin to explain the value of a program like this and what type of impact it will make to me,” Patterson said. Patterson went to Germany for two weeks as part of an educational tour with Crinnin when he was a freshman.
“That whetted my appetite for more,” he said.
The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program began in 1983 and was founded in celebration of the 300th year anniversary of the first German immigration to the United States.
According to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange information, academic merit, as well as motivation, curiosity and flexibility are key components to a competitive application and previous German language experience is not required.
According to Crinnin, one really cannot place a value on a program like this.
“The students become totally immersed in the language and the culture during this exchange,” Crinnin said. “They become fluent in another language and really learn about other cultures by living in it.”
“We spend 10 months there and they want us to pretty much speak only German, all the time,” Patterson said.
In the beginning of September, before Patterson leaves for Germany, he and all the other Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange students will travel to Washington, D.C.
There he will meet with the German Consultant, representatives from the Department of State and possibly meet Congressman Brian Higgins.
The entire group will leave from Washington, D.C. and travel to Germany. Once there, they will be sent to their various host families.
“Right now I do not know who my host family is or even what area of Germany I am going to,” Patterson said.
He said he is not concerned, because he knows that wherever he is sent, it will be exciting.
While in Germany, he will also have the opportunity to travel to other neighboring European countries, like France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Holland.
“I want to learn as much as I can while I am over there,” Patterson. “This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to make the most of it.”
Once he returns back to the States in July 2013, Patterson plans on continuing his education by attending college, possibly Columbia University, majoring in foreign area studies, interdisciplinary and regional.
“I plan on studying hard and I ultimately would like to work as a diplomat representing the United States in other countries,” Patterson.
That isn’t all, Patterson admits that his ultimate dream is to some day be Secretary of State.
“The possibilities are there if you work hard,” Patterson said.