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Letter: Now back at home, one final letter to Worthington

For one last time I am writing to you about my adventures. No doubt, there had been plenty, but the last couple of weeks had crowned a whole year of them, leaving me with the memories and good experiences.

My summer in Worthington consisted of spending as much time as possible with my host family and friends as well as doing summer internships. The Globe was so nice to let me into their newsroom for a couple of days, giving the opportunity to job shadow their reporters and write an article about the upcoming travel of the “Amazing” Worthington City Band. I also had gotten the chance to be an intern at the Sanford Hospital and to experience a deeper look into physical and occupational therapy there. In Germany I had done similar internships in a newspaper and a hospital, and so I had hoped to be able to experience how the American equivalent of each of them worked. Over my last month the kitchen of Alan and Janice turned into an experimental studio of a crazy German student cook. I kind of knew how to prepare a German meal but regarding the different measurements that are prevailing the American kitchen tools and recipes, it turned out to be an adventure. I love adventures. With all my host families we had a get together, shared some stories and enjoyed German food.

Together with my art teacher and one of her former students, I had been working on the reinstatement of an art piece: the paper maché version of a human-sized Statue of Liberty. During the last weeks of school we had been working on it, and we completed it a week before the Fourth of july — just in time.

Independence Day came along and with it visitors from northern Minnesota — my host families kids. Together we had an awesome weekend involving a lot of sunshine, good summer food (some of it provided by my German cooking skills) swimming in and kayaking on the lake as well as enjoying the Beach Bash and the parade of the boats. The absolute highlight had been the fireworks late at night on the Fourth of July.

Having the chance to say a proper farewell to the sport of hockey that I had fallen in love with meant a lot to me. My hockey team was doing a summer training camp in Marshall, so the Shreiner family took me to one of their games and I was able to see them play one more time and got the chance to say good-bye.

The International Festival came along, and it was a pretty cool experience being able to present my country by carrying the German flag and wearing my German dress (the “dirndl“). The festival had also been a great opportunity to say goodbye to some of my friends that I had gotten close to over the past year. On my last day, my friends had organized a supposedly “surprise” farewell party, but they naturally told me about it. It’s been an awesome last evening enjoying it with my host family at last.

The next day I found myself with a lot of American travelers and the ‘Amazing” Worthington city band on our way to the Minneapolis-St.Paul Airport. It’s been a long journey over Greenland, the Atlantic Ocean, Iceland and Europe but being home and celebrating the 70 year existence of our friendship with Worthingtoners alongside Crailsheimers had been a highlight. I must confess, I have been home for a couple weeks. The leaves are falling, but it is important for me to express my thanks.

During my year in Worthington I had given a speech once, describing every single month as an adventure. And it truly had been. Experiences I will never forget, moments that were spreading a warmth so priceless, lessons I have learned that make me think in a much more open-minded way.  Like so many people before me, it had been a dream of little Johanna to experience being an exchange student. This year was a gift that made and still makes my heart full.

A big thank you to the committees on either side of the Atlantic for fullilling these dreams year after year. To Martha McCarthy, who started the good deeds of love and friendship. To Bob Demuth, who contributed so much to this friendship. For all the good laughs, stories and memories I had been able to share with my American families — the Shreiner family, the Johnsons, the Burns family and the Oberlohs — thank you so so much. Without you all, it would have been as little possible as without my family. To my family who encouraged me to be brave. Thank you.

Cheers to the next 70 years!