Two tenth graders from North Lake Early College will spend their junior year in Germany living with host families, studying the language, exploring select cities and historical sites and learning about the culture. They’ll take part in seminars, visit Germany’s parliament – the Bundestag – and meet with U.S. and German government officials as “citizen diplomats.”
Jackie Carranza and Analiese Ayala Henderson were each awarded scholarships through the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), a program jointly funded by the U.S. and German governments to provide scholarships to high school students who want to experience another culture and learn a language through full immersion.
“This scholarship is invaluable,” said Gio Macías, the teens’ German teacher at North Lake. “It’s a wonderful opportunity because a lot of our students don’t get the opportunity to leave the state, much less the country. For them to get the chance to study in a brand-new culture and broaden their perspectives is really awesome. They’ll become fluent in another language, and that’s going to give them countless opportunities when they return to the states, when they apply for a job or whatever they choose to do after school.”
Students were required to write essays and participate in interviews to gain acceptance to the highly competitive program, which in recent years has had an admission rate of less than 2 percent.
“I’m still processing it,” Jackie said. Having taken two semesters of German in high school, she said she’s grown to have a great appreciation of the culture and the language. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to learn more about the culture, especially through such a positive program. I’m looking forward to the group events. I want to hear about other people’s experiences and about Germany as a whole.”
Analiese said she applied for the program “for the opportunity to leave my hometown and experience a new culture. I’m most looking forward to becoming fluent in German. It’s very exciting. I would tell other students thinking of applying to a program such as this one to just go for it, even if you don’t think you’ll get in, because you only live once.”
The two students’ accomplishment is quite rare, said Dr. Amy Anderton, director of Dallas ISD’s World Languages department. “In 34 years of working in the German teaching field, I have never seen two people from the same district, and certainly from the same school, get this award. It’s pretty unheard of.” Anderton’s daughter, Alina McSpadden, was a recipient of the scholarship two years ago and is now a freshman at UT Arlington studying Critical Languages and International Studies with emphasis in German.
In Texas, the CBYX program is implemented by CIEE, a nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization. The goal is to give young people ages 15-18 a firsthand experience of the importance of international friendship and cooperation.