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Kuhl chosen as exchange student to Crailsheim

Brittany Workman/Daily Globe Kayli Kuhl (left), a junior at Worthington High School was named the 2011-2012 exchange student to Crailsheim, Germany, at the program's annual banquet Sunday. David Etzel (right) is the current Crailsheim exchange student to Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- In an age where technology and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype have revolutionized transcontinental communication, some may question the need to travel when technology has facilitated instant communication.

Despite technological advancement, John Nordell, president of the Worthington Crailsheim International Committee, reminded residents of the continued importance of fostering relationships between Crailsheim, Germany and Worthington while announcing Kayli Kuhl as the 2011-2012 exchange student to Crailsheim, Germany.

Kuhl, a junior at Worthington High School and daughter of Burdell and Jolene Kuhl, joins an extended list of students who have participated in the program since being founded in 1947.

The Worthington-Crailsheim connection is one to the oldest partnerships in all of Germany, Nordell noted at the program's annual banquet on Sunday at First Lutheran Church.

"The relationship we have with Crailsheim is a very important part of Worthington," Nordell said. "Nothing speaks of a community as much as its youth who help cement the bonds of this friendship. I hope it (the program) continues for another 64 years.

Speaking as a testament to the historical ties between the communities, Keeli Harvey described her experience in Crailsheim while serving as the exchange student during the 1997-1998 school year.

Harvey was the exchange student during the 50th anniversary of the Worthington-Crailsheim relationship and signed documents reaffirming the communities' connection.

"Each time a student is sent to us or a student is sent to Crailsheim, it reaffirms the importance of this program and gives us the sense of a larger community," Harvey said.

She also offered insight and support to the Kuhl, who will be immersed in the German society in the coming year.

"Embrace your new life fully and wholeheartedly," she told Kuhl. "It will be difficult and you will face struggles, but there will always be people around you who you can trust. You will carry this experience with you for the rest of your life."

Living in Germany occurred to Kuhl as a crazy idea this summer, she said. After rearranging her class schedule to fulfill the program's two-year requirement of the German language, she submitted her application and was ecstatic when she was selected as the program's ambassador.

"I'm really excited to go," Kuhl said of her upcoming venture abroad. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the culture. I am of German heritage and it will be so great so see how they (ancestors) lived."

The Worthington-Crailsheim student exchange program was a direct result of the horrors of WWII.

From a city destroyed by the devastation of war, to a world revolutionized by modern technology, the exchange program has withstood the test of time and will continue doing so as long as its citizens are open to a changing world.

"The lives we live our tangible, not virtual," Harvey added. "They are real and the best way to live is to be physically there, to be in their shoes. In that way we are never very far from where we began."