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Off to Crailsheim: Burns chosen as 2016-17 exchange student

WORTHINGTON -- Dominic Burns, a Worthington High School (WHS) sophomore, will represent Worthington as the 2016-17 student ambassador to Crailsheim, Germany.

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Current exchange student from Crailsheim, Germany, Tom Hanselmann (left), stands Sunday with Worthington’s 2016-17 exchange student nominee, Dominic Burns. Submitted Photo

WORTHINGTON - Dominic Burns, a Worthington High School (WHS) sophomore, will represent Worthington as the 2016-17 student ambassador to Crailsheim, Germany.

Burns, the fourth of Scott and Karen Burns’ five sons, was named the 115th student in the Worthington-Crailsheim International, Inc. (WCII) exchange program at the organization’s annual banquet yesterday.
“I didn’t try the sauerkraut,” admitted Burns following the German-themed luncheon, “but I’m open to trying all kinds of new foods in Germany.”
A full menu of new tastes - including culture, language, music, transportation and more - will await Burns when he arrives in Worthington’s sister city late next summer.
“I’m in German II right now, and I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Burns avowed.
Earlier in the event, WCII president Janice Berger shared that the sister city relationship is now in its 69th year, and in addition to the well-established student exchange program, other initiatives are under way.

“We’ve received a $20,000 grant to construct the Worthington half of the bridge sculpture that was built in Crailsheim last year,” offered Berger, noting that approximately $4,500 remains to be raised before the project can proceed.
“A delegation of 30 to 40 people from Crailsheim will visit Worthington from Aug. 7 to 14, and it’s our goal to have the sculpture built and ready to be unveiled during their visit.”
Five past exchange students from Worthington - Haley Rogers, Karla Kirkeby, Jaron Sternke, DiDi Christopherson and Jessica Herrera - attended the banquet to support Burns and the other two candidates (WHS sophomores Natalie Demuth and Diana Rivera), as did the 2015-16 exchange student from Crailsheim, Tom Hanselmann.
A letter from Skyla Rautenkranz, the current Worthington ambassador to Crailsheim, was also read.
“Don’t be disappointed if you aren’t chosen,” urged Hanselmann prior to the announcement. “I’ll feel sorry for you, but you shouldn’t be disappointed.”
Hanselmann talked about the excellent year he was having in Worthington, showering praise on his two host families to date (the families of Jean and Jason Johnson and James and Jeanette Jenson) and other Worthington residents who have welcomed and entertained him.
“I’m really grateful to my host families and to so many other people in the community who have become friends with me so far,” said Hanselmann, who will accompany Burns to Germany in approximately five months.
“I have made a lot of friends at school, I love playing soccer here and becoming a part of the list of Worthington-Crailsheim exchange students is a big deal.”
Herrera, who represented Worthington in Crailsheim during 2014-15, said the next ambassador could look forward to a “world full of wonders,” and despite the best preparations, “No one can ever be ready for such an impactful experience.
“I was placed outside my comfort zone and filled up with so much knowledge,” Herrera said. “I made friends from many parts of the world, and I learned that we are different but all just humans who have different perspectives on how to live life.”
Guest speaker at the banquet was Kirkeby, the 1966-67 exchange student to Crailsheim.
She lived with seven host families during her time in Germany, and although World War II had only ended 21 years before her tenure, she said the Crailsheim community “welcomed me as a sister and daughter.”
Kirkeby listed several words that come to mind when she ponders the Worthington/Crailsheim exchange program, including gratitude, wonder, resilience, relationships, challenge, generosity and curiosity.
“The same needs, wants, hopes and dreams exist here and there,” assured Kirkeby. “Remain open and be grateful,” she advised.
Karen Burns, Dominic Burns’ mother, spent a week in Crailsheim during July 2011 with her eldest son, Thomas, and the “Amazing” Worthington City Band, so she is already aware of the warm hospitality that awaits him.
“We are truly honored Dominic will be given the chance to do this; it’s an amazing opportunity,” she said.
“A cousin of mine, Cathy Hoffman, was the exchange student to Crailsheim in the ’70s, and I know they’ll take such good care of him - but there will still be a void at home without him.”
The exchange program between Worthington and Crailsheim is made possible by the generous donations of individuals, groups and businesses; the participating students are essentially the beneficiaries of a scholarship that covers almost all of the expenses related to traveling and living in their sister city for an entire year.
“Being an exchange student gives you a chance to develop as a young adult, and I’m very thankful to the WCII committee for making it possible,” said Herrera, echoing the sentiments of every exchange student present.
Johanna Andrejew of Crailsheim was recently announced as the German nominee to spend 2016-17 in Worthington. She will travel to Worthington in early August when Rautenkranz returns home.
Said Berger, “These friendships just keep growing and growing.”

Donations to support the student exchange program of Worthington-Crailsheim International, Inc., or to fund the bridge sculpture dedicated to the sister city partnership, may be made payable to WCII and mailed to: WCII, P.O. Box 742, Worthington, 56187. Those interested in serving as hosts during the Crailsheim delegation’s visit in August may call the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce at 372-2919 to volunteer.

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Past Worthington exchange students to Crailsheim, Germany, stand with Dominic Burns, the 2016-17 nominee for the long-standing program, yesterday afternoon at the Worthington-Crailsheim International, Inc., banquet. From left, the exchange students and the years they represented or will represent Worthington in Germany: Haley Rogers (2010-11), Karla Kirkeby (1966-67), Dominic Burns (2016-17), Jaron Sternke (2013-14), DiDi Christopherson (2001-02) and Jessica Herrera (2014-15). Submitted Photo

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