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FULL STORY: Hennings is next exchange student to Crailsheim

Liss Huss (left), the current Crailsheim exchange student to Worthington, joins newly selected Worthington exchange student Mariah Hennings. Hennings will leave this summer for a one-year stay in Worthington's sister city, Crailsheim, Germany. (Julie Buntjer / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Mariah Hennings will be the next student representative to experience a year in Crailsheim, Germany in a student exchange program that dates back to 1965.

Hennings gasped in excitement as her name was called during Sunday afternoon’s Worthington-Crailsheim International banquet. The Worthington High School sophomore was among two candidates vying for the chance to be the next exchange student to Crailsheim. Abigail Bannor was the second.

Hennings, of Brewster, is the daughter of Lyn Hennings and Rick Hennings. She has two older brothers, Ridge and Kaleb, and one younger brother, Hayden.

Currently enrolled in German I at Worthington High School, Hennings said she applied to be the next exchange student because she wanted to challenge herself, both in school and culturally. She’s never travelled abroad, and is looking forward to the experience.

“My family is in large part German, and I also wanted to challenge myself with learning another language,” she said. “I hope to learn to have more empathy, to really think of other people before myself and to experience different viewpoints across the globe — to be more aware culturally.”

Hennings, who open-enrolled in the Worthington school district as a preschooler, said when she first learned of the student exchange program in the eighth grade, she was interested in the opportunity. Still, she hadn’t given the idea strong consideration until earlier this school year.

Though her parents were apprehensive about the idea at first, Hennings said a Feb. 4 informational meeting on the exchange left them all rather excited about the opportunity.

In competing to be the next exchange student to Crailsheim, each student was required to complete a 4-5 page application and obtain two letters of reference, according to Janice Berger, who spearheads the student exchange program locally. This was the first year the informal interview session had to be cancelled due to bad weather, she added.

The formal interview process was conducted by a seven-member committee comprised of Krista Van Note, Kevin Flynn, Rich Besel, Carrie Adams, Dan Rautenkranz and Mark Ludes, with Janice Oberloh also reviewing the applications.

Berger said the sentiments of the committee were that they wished they could send both applicants.

Worthington-Crailsheim International Inc., will pay for the airline tickets for Hennings, as well as current Crailsheim exchange student, Liss Huss, to travel to Crailsheim this summer.

Sunday’s banquet included remarks from Huss, who said Worthington has become her second home, and is her second life. During her seven months here, she has participated in tennis and basketball, had two host families and is about to move to her new hosts, Bill and Dawn Gordon.

Huss said her life has changed, and the same will happen for the next exchange student to Crailsheim.

2018-2019 Worthington exchange student Grace Moody gave remarks about her year in Crailsheim, speaking about how the trip changed her life, and noting some of the travels — including a trip to Paris — while she was in Europe.

Chloe Bents, Worthington’s current exchange student in Crailsheim, wrote a letter that was ready by her mother, Colleen Bents. In the letter, Chloe said, “For the last seven months I have had the time of my life.” While being 4,628 miles from home hasn’t always been easy, she has embraced the opportunities. Bents also thanked the sponsors who make the exchange possible.

Crailsheim’s Christoph Salinger, who was a student teacher at Worthington High School in the spring of 2018, also attended Sunday’s banquet.

Craisheim has already selected its candidate for the exchange program. Emelie Düll will travel to Worthington this summer to begin her year-long experience. Düll has previously visited Worthington in 2013 and 2016. Her older sister, Sophia, was the exchange student to Worthington in 2012-2013.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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