WORTHINGTON — For the second time in the 63-year history of the Worthington-Crailsheim student exchange, a second generation exchange student is in this community’s midst.
Liss Huss arrived in Worthington Aug. 9 and will spend the next year integrating into the community that, 71 years ago, adopted Crailsheim and helped its residents after the German city was devastated near the end of World War II.
If her last name is familiar, it’s because her dad, Axel Huss, spent the 1986-87 school year in Worthington. Axel, now a successful businessman in Crailsheim, commissioned a bridge sculpture that was unveiled on the former McKee barracks land in 2014, when a local contingent was visiting Crailsheim. At that time, he challenged the city of Worthington to build a matching bridge sculpture to signify the connection between the two communities.
Worthington’s statue was completed in 2016 and unveiled that summer when a group from Crailsheim was visiting, including the Huss family.
That was the second time Liss Huss visited Worthington. She came a year earlier, in 2015, on a family vacation.
“I always wanted to stay longer than just a few days,” Huss said of those visits. She’s dreamed of being the Crailsheim representative to Worthington since she was in the fifth grade.
“When it was time to apply, I was really happy, but really nervous, too,” she said. “I didn’t know if I could get it.”
Huss was one of five applicants hoping to spend a year in Worthington. Each, in addition to completing an application, went through an interview process with questions posed either in German or English to test their language skills. Questions focused on the history of the sister city partnership and knowledge of Worthington.
Since Huss and her classmates have had English as a required class since the first grade, they are fluent in the language.
Now that she’s in Worthington, Huss said she speaks English with everyone but her host sister, Grace Moody, who was Worthington’s exchange student to Crailsheim for the 2017-18 school year.
“I mostly speak German with Grace,” she said.
Just days after her arrival in Worthington, Huss joined the Worthington High School tennis team, and has had daily practice for most of August.
“I do like trying new things and trying new sports — that's why I’m really happy to play tennis here,” she said. “The girls there are super friendly.”
Tennis is a new sport for Huss, and she’s discovered she enjoys it. She’s also eyeing winter and spring sports at WHS — perhaps basketball and definitely softball in the spring.
“We don’t have real softball in Germany, or in my city,” she said. “I really want to try this.”
Huss is also in the WHS Trojan marching band’s honor guard, and performed with the group at the American Legion Convention in Minneapolis recently.
The extracurriculars have helped her to meet several of the students she will attend class with starting next week at WHS.
“In school, I think it’s going to be very different,” Huss said, adding that until this year, she’s never been able to create her own schedule.
Her classes include U.S. and world history, a stained glass class, debate, Spanish, photography and phy ed.
Spanish is the fourth language Huss has studied. In addition to German and English, she’s taken French since the sixth grade, and began learning Spanish in eighth grade.
“I really like this language; it’s easier for me to communicate in Spanish than in French,” Huss said. When she returns to Crailsheim next year, she will have two more required years of French, and intends to take Spanish for another two years as an elective.
Huss said both her dad and mom, Hiede, were very supportive of her wish to be an exchange student to Worthington.
“My dad was really proud and happy about this — that the exchange keeps on going in my family,” she said. “My mom was happy too, since she’s been here twice before. She was a little afraid, too.”
Huss has one older brother, Tone.
“I’m really thankful to be here — my dream came true,” she grinned.
This weekend, Huss and her host family will visit the Mall of America and attend a Taylor Swift concert. During the next year, she hopes to do some travelling — at least to see parts of neighboring states and perhaps a little of Canada.