Bingham High student expands his horizons in Germany
Right now, Tanner Palmer, a 16-year-old junior from Bingham High in South Jordan is spending a year living and studying in Germany. He was one of 250 American students awarded the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship to study in Germany for the 2010-2011 academic year.
This foreign exchange program was designed by the U.S. Congress and the German Parliament [called Bundestag] to strengthen ties and share cultural insights between German and American youth.
The program provides American students a full merit-based scholarship to study abroad in Germany, while offering the same opportunity for German students to study in America. For the application process, Tanner needed to write six essays on different topics, have the recommendation of two of his teachers and submit transcripts for his previous three years of school. After being accepted, he had to complete another 10-page application form to help Ayusa Global Youth Exchange, the organization which administers the program, match him with the right host family.
Tanner is living in Rheinberg, Germany, with the Loeffeck family. His host mother, Tanja, is a widow,, with a 17-year-old son, Niklas. Tanner attends the Gymnasium Adolfinum in Moers, with Niklas. He began his year abroad in August and will return in June .Before starting school at the Gymnasium, Tanner attended four weeks of language school to improve his German.
Tanner said one of the best things about the experience is learning, not just to speak better German, but "how much you learn about yourself. Right now I'm practically fluent in German, and I know the German culture pretty well, but I've grown up as a person, and learned a lot more about myself as a person. This is a really hard experience, and as my dad always says, 'This will probably be one of the hardest things you do in your life' and it really is, but I know when I get back, it will make everything seem a lot easier."
"The hardest thing is probably being away from your family and friends in America. I have gone through a few rough times here, and I could only contact my family through email, skype, or a pay phone," Tanner said.
"For me right now, I feel like all the hard times are gone. I don't have any homesickness, I can speak enough German to live here, and I have all my friends to help me out. Now it's just time to enjoy the rest of my year here," he added.
Tanner says that most of the strangest cross cultural experience he's had have happened in his P.E. classes. "It's always funny when people think, 'Wow, you must be really good at football and basketball.' They all think that because I'm American, and it's just funny when I tell them I can't play football or basketball at all."
Tanner thinks his year abroad will have a big impact on his future. "I'll probably be more open to people and new ideas, and I won't really be afraid of trying anything new. This is one of the hardest experiences of my life, and when I get back, I'll be able to look at everything with a new perspective. Most important is probably the openness to new things; I've learned to be open, and that's a skill everyone should have," he said.
Todd Palmer, Tanner's father also thinks this experience will have a great impact on Tanner. "Having Tanner gone has been a real experience. It has been difficult to watch him struggle, but thrilling to see him learn and grow. So much in life is learning to overcome obstacles and it has been wonderful to watch Tanner develop his own problem solving skills. Tanner took the initiative to get involved in this program and has really done well with the unknown. He is not only learning a new language but enjoying a new culture and making many new friends."
View the original article from the South Valley Journal, click here.
To find out more on the CBYX program, click here.