Someone’s life changing moment

Today, I got to change somebody's life.

mama fest: rockstar
papa fest: rockstar!
oliver fest: rockstar

In 1989-90, I spent my senior year of high school in Germany through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, which grants 200-300 full scholarships each to young Germans and Americans through the State Department and the German congressional body.

I lived in Düsseldorf with a terrific host family I'm still close to and see once a year (there is 3/4 of the family in my sunglasses at right, two summers ago). I fell in love with Martin, now a well-known dancer. When I came home from school one day in November, my host mom was watching tv and crying. "Was ist los?" I asked. "Die Mauer! Die Mauer ist weg!" she told me — the Wall had come down!  In college, I majored in German. I've lived there since, use the language in my research and am still very fluent.

Ten days ago, I was a part of the interview board for the CBYX program. And today, I got to call a young woman who won the scholarship and tell her. First, I told her mom. Her mom called the girl where she babysits and had her call me. It was amazing to be able to change someone's life in that manner. So many wonderful things flowed out of the year I spent with Familie Fest in Düsseldorf — nothing has been the same since. I figure that it's unlikely a CBYX recipient will find my web page, but my warmest congratulations to you if you go.

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  1. I remember when you were accepted into the CBYX program… This must be the good kind of Karma, don't you think? How exciting to continue to be part of this process.

  2. While I have not applied yet for the scholorship, I ended up googling it to see if I could find a post like this. It's nice to see that you really enjoyed your stay. I plan to apply for the scholorship for the next wave of the exchange, but I was mostly hesitant because of how mysterious living in another country seems (especially since I haven't even left my own time zone, let alone another country). I can say I feel much more excited about filling out the application now that I see you had such a good experience there, and it seems to be a lot like what I expected it would be like =)


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