Today, I got to change somebody's life.
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.