Not much happened when Amelie Kutschis entered the large departure hall at Terminal 2 at Munich Airport earlier this week. The really big holiday rush seems to die down by the end of August. It won’t be long until the summer holidays are over again. Next school year is going to be a very special one for Amelie Kutchis, who is not going on vacation. The 16-year-old is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime: “It’s exciting and I’d say I’m going to cry right away on the plane. But of course I’m excited. Let the adventure begin.”
Months of preparation for USA adventures
Amelie has been preparing for this adventure for months. At home, Diefenbach was supported by his English teacher at his high school in Landshut, Lower Bavaria. Also in preparatory courses in Coburg and Berlin. A lot of effort for a special role – Amelie goes to America for a year as a so-called junior ambassador.
Around 300 school students and young professionals are selected for the German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Sponsorship Program each year. That’s why Amelie has many other tasks besides school: “representing Germany, doing voluntary community work, setting up projects yourself, clarifying misunderstandings, and then promoting intercultural understanding.”
Lower Bavaria meets Maryland
Amelie was elected to the Landshut-Kelheim constituency and will now represent her home on the other side of the Atlantic for a year. It goes to Pasadena in the state of Maryland on the east coast of the United States. An hour’s drive from the capital Washington.
Amelie is “very satisfied” with this place. The student had no say in where she went: “It could have been a small town in Texas or a city in Florida.”
40 years of German-American youth exchange
So now Pasadena is much smaller than his hometown of Landshut, with about 30,000 people. Another program of contrast: sea waves instead of lower Bavarian fields when looking out the window. In the spirit of the Parliamentary Sponsorship Programme: Broaden your perspective.
The German-American Youth Exchange Program was launched exactly 40 years ago. Participants are sponsored by a member of the Bundestag. This ensures that the “junior ambassadors” come from all parts of Germany so that the country’s full diversity can be conveyed.
Social skills and understanding of politics are essential
Selection is not only based on good marks. It depends on the applicant’s English knowledge, social skills, general political knowledge and interest in political and social life. Instead, every year young people from America come to Germany through a comparable program of the US Congress.
On the plane with the grater in spades
For Amelie Kutchis, the big journey has just begun. Still, she’s already certain of what she wants to accomplish during her year in the U.S.: “When I leave Maryland again, I want to remember where my home is, how we tick, and of course what we eat.” That’s why there should be room for a spades grater in the suitcase just before departure. And the inscription “Heaven Landshut, Thousand Landshut” should not be left out. As an enthusiastic participant in the Landshut wedding, this area of Lower Bavarian culture on the East Coast of America should be well known by now.