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October 4, 2011 > Saying "guten tag" to America

Saying "guten tag" to America

By Angie Wang, photos by Angie Wang

Meet Tim Fordan, a German exchange student currently enrolled as a junior at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont. What Tim needs most, right now, is a local family to host him during this school year.

In September of 2010, Tim applied for a scholarship from the Parliamentary Partnership Program (PPP), an organization that works with Germany's Congress to offer over 300 scholarships to students interested in traveling abroad. By mid-November, Tim had been interviewed, but didn't receive word of the results until March of 2011, when he was overjoyed to discover that he had been selected to study in America.

"Studying in America has always been a dream of mine," he says. "I've heard very good things from my friends and neighbors." Tim's brother is currently studying in Peru, and after hearing many intriguing tales, Tim was encouraged to apply for a scholarship of his own. "I wanted to spend one of my teenage years experiencing American life because I know it'll never be the same when I get older," he adds.

Tim recognizes that as an exchange student, he is a representative of Germany, and he appreciates every minute of it. "It feels like I have a special role in the school," he says. "It's great because [here] everybody wants to learn about my culture, and people are so enthusiastic about it." Though it was not up to Tim to select the geographic location for his time in the U.S., he could not have imagined a better match than California. "I love politics; it's a hobby of mine. During our week of preparation for this stay, I was instructed not to talk about politics. Luckily, in California, politics is always up for discussion."

Tim's temporary host parents Larry Anderson and Linda Bailey were able to take him to see Condoleezza Rice speak. "It's rare to see a sixteen-year old so interested in politics," remarks Mr. Anderson.

"Everything really is bigger here, especially the school's campus," Tim adds. He comes from Berlin, where only 600 students study at his school. Tim was surprised to hear that over 2,200 students are attending Mission San Jose High School this year. Though school is even more academically oriented in Germany, MSJHS's emphasis on academics differed from Tim's expectations. "Although it may not be representative of the typical American high school, it is actually very American. There is definitely a lot of school spirit. Everyone is very friendly, open-minded, and helpful," Tim says.

"He is so clean, kind, polite, and curious, and we love having him stay in our home," says Ms. Bailey about Tim. Unfortunately, Ms. Bailey and Mr. Anderson have plans to travel in November and could only house Tim for one month. AYUSA Global Youth Exchange works with Partnership International (PI) to help exchange students find host families. "The one major disappointment I've experienced was not having a host family waiting for me when I arrived in the U.S.," Tim says. Luckily, Mr. Anderson and Ms. Bailey were able to host him for a while. However, Tim is still looking for another, more permanent host family that he can stay with until the end of the school year.

Anyone interested in housing Tim should contact Sharon Cresswell at scresswell@comcast.net; she is the AYUSA representative in charge of finding Tim a home. Host families are carefully screened and interviewed before being assigned a student. "Though I am open minded about other areas of California, I'd really like to continue to stay in Fremont and attend MSJHS. I've made a lot of friends, and I don't think I've discovered everything I want to learn about this area yet," Tim offers as closing remarks.

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