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Skyla Rautenkranz chosen as 2015-16 exchange student to Crailsheim

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington-Crailsheim International Committee celebrated 68 years of student exchanges Sunday afternoon during the organization's annual banquet. The 2015-16 Crailsheim student candidates for the exchange were Coral Owens, Eth...

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Skyla Rautenkranz (left) poses with Crailsheim student Vanessa Pazurek during Sunday’s Worthington-Crailsheim International Committee Banquet. (Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - The Worthington-Crailsheim International Committee celebrated 68 years of student exchanges Sunday afternoon during the organization’s annual banquet. The 2015-16 Crailsheim student candidates for the exchange were Coral Owens, Ethan Phommasy and Skyla Rautenkranz.
In the 68 year history of the Worthington-Crailsheim International Committee, 111 students have embarked on a year-long cultural experience from both sides of the Atlantic. In February, Crailsheim announced the 112th exchange student, Tom Hanselman, who will spend a year in Worthington. Now, Rautenkranz will represent Worthington as the program’s 113th exchange student.
Initially, Worthington and Crailsheim students traveled abroad in alternating years. According to Janice Berger, president of the committee, the exchange program changed in 1964 to have a student from each community participating in the exchange at the same time.
Berger encouraged those in attendance to spread word of the bond between Crailsheim and Worthington. The two communities became city sisters shortly after World War II, when Worthington residents donated items to Crailsheim to aid the war-torn city.
“This is our sister city. We need to take pride in it,” Berger said. “It’s the oldest … exchange program in the United States.”
Students are afforded the opportunity during the exchange to stay with three or four host families. Berger noted that the purpose of the different hosts is to provide the student with a broader range of experiences. Currently, the committee is looking for host families in Worthington to keep the program going.
Jaron Sternke, Worthington’s exchange student for 2013-14, shared his experience in Germany.
“I stayed with four families and made friends for life,” Sternke said. “It was amazing.”
In addition to touring Germany, he also traveled to Greece and France during his time overseas.
“Between the three of you (nominees), I know you will all represent Worthington well,” Sternke said.
Vanessa Pazurek, the current exchange student from Crailsheim, offered her view on the experience.
“I’m glad to have this opportunity because it is a really big deal,” Pazurek said. 
During her stay in Worthington, she has had the opportunity to learn basketball, visit the Mall of America twice, attend a Minnesota Wild hockey game and travel on the band trip to Florida. 
Academically, Pazurek has had the chance to take a few classes of her choice; she’s enjoyed history and cooking so far. She thanked the city of Worthington for the opportunity to come to the United States. 
Pazurek noted that she competed against seven other students to be chosen for the exchange. Berger said Pazurek will accompany Rautenkranz to Germany, and Pazurek’s family will host her in their home for the first three months of the exchange.
Rautenkranz became very emotional when it was announced she’d be traveling to Germany this summer. 
“I’m very excited,” Rautenkranz said, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard for something.”
In order to be considered for the trip, Rautenkranz had to fill out an application with essay questions and undergo an interview process. 
“I’m excited for the relationships I’ll make and to represent our town,” Rautenkranz added.

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