Rogers chosen to 'live out childhood dream' in Germany
WORTHINGTON -- A teary-eyed Haley Rogers thanked everyone after being named the 2010-2011 exchange student to Crailsheim, Germany, at the annual Worthington-Crailsheim International Annual Banquet Sunday at First Lutheran Church.
"I just wanted to say thank you guys so much for letting me be able to live out my dream. Thank you so much," Rogers said.
Rogers, a sophomore at Worthington High School, is the daughter of Cindy Rogers and Tom Krumm.
"I get to live out my childhood dream," Rogers said. "I've always wanted this. I get to represent the whole entire town of Worthington."
Rogers, whose favorite academic subjects are algebra and biology, has taken a year of German and is looking forward to going abroad to experience school in a foreign country, sharing her Worthington, Minnesotan and American culture with families in Germany.
Two other candidates for the program, Nyachanal "Sunday" Gach and Carly Schippmann, were also honored at the banquet. All three students went through an interview process in which they were asked many questions about Worthington and the local geography, preparing them for questions Germans might ask if they were chosen to go abroad.
"You'll take a little bit of Worthington with you and be our ambassador in whatever field you work in," said John Nordell of the Crailsheim program.
German exchange student Katrin Staudacher spoke about her wonderful experiences in the U.S..
"I found so many new friends in the six months I'm already here," Staudacher said. "I have now a so much bigger family.... It's such a great experience. I'm really looking forward to the next exchange student. It will be a really great year for you."
Bob Demuth, former mayor of Worthington, spoke about his experiences with the Worthington-Crailsheim relationship, from the two Cashel women who started the program because a little girl from Finland said she didn't have any shoes, to his experience overcoming the language barrier in order to purchase napkins from a friendly Crailsheim shopkeeper.
Demuth also related two stories about the Worthington-Crailsheim relationship that occurred before there was any formal contact between the cities -- stories from World War II told to Demuth by others.
"The U.S. soldiers came from the south into Crailsheim and drove the Nazis out. Hitler sent S.S. troops to drive out the Americans," Demuth said. The Americans decided to bomb Crailsheim, and dropped leaflets warning the citizens to leave. The bombers came, and destroyed many of the city's buildings.
When Tedo Cashel's daughter, Marnie Cashel, said her Finnish penpal lacked shoes, Tedo started working to create a partnership with a city abroad. The State Department, Demuth said, told Tedo she needed to partner with a city the Americans had destroyed during the war.
Enter Crailsheim, and a partnership that has endured for more than 60 years.
"It's up to us and the younger folks to keep this thing alive, because if we don't, the end could come," Demuth cautioned. "And that would be a tragedy."