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Letter: Recapping a wonderful year abroad

My time as the German exchange student is over, but will not be forgotten. I would like to thank everyone who worked on and set aside their own time to make our wonderful partnership a possibility.

My time as the German exchange student is over, but will not be forgotten. I would like to thank everyone who worked on and set aside their own time to make our wonderful partnership a possibility.

My trip had many highlights. At the start, I was with the Hanselmann family. Their son Tom was the exchange student from 2015-16. The Hanselmanns took me on many joy-filled adventures. We visited the Island of Norderney in Northern Germany. Then we went south to Sudtirol in the Alps of Italy. I really cherished the time with the Hanselmanns and how they supported me as I started the challenge of living and going to school in a new country.  I also stayed with the families Krasser, Otterbach, and Andrejew. Each family showed me some of the best things about Germany, its culture and its history. My host families brought me to almost all of the major cities in Germany. I visited Stuttgart, Cologne, Dortmund, Kiel, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt. I saw the Koelner Dom in Cologne. This medieval cathedral is one of the most stunning things you can see. It took over 400 years to construct. Swantje Andrejew, Johanna’s mother, took me to Berlin. I got to see the Bundestag. The Bundestag is the German parliament building. It is housed under a giant glass dome to symbolize transparency in government.

One of the other outstanding features of our sister city exchange is getting to see other parts of Europe, too. I travelled to other major European cities like Milan in Italy, Gothenburg in Sweden, Zurich in Switzerland and London in the UK. All of these experiences have made a tremendous difference in my life.

Life in Crailsheim was full of activities. Both of our committees emphasize being involved in school and the civic life of the community.  In Crailsheim, I participated in many sports. I played basketball in my free time, I was on the track team, I tried my foot at soccer and joined the fencing club. Fencing was by far my favorite sport. I had never done it before, but I decided to give it a try, and boy did it go well. I struggled at first to understand the rules and the procedures. It was difficult with all the instructions being in German, and my German being so crude at the start of the year. Eventually I caught on by watching others, and soon enough I was a decent fencer. Track was a fun change of pace for me. Let me be clear: I am a long-distance runner and not a sprinter nor hurdler - apologies to Coach Smidt - but track in Germany is all about sprinting. I was never the most valuable sprinter of my track club.

I spent a lot of time watching the Crailsheim Merlins play. That was another one of my highlights. The Merlins are Crailsheim’s professional basketball team. The atmosphere in the stadium is unlike the ones here. All the fans have these little clapper things. The stadium is extremely noisy. When the Merlins have the ball, the fans try to make a rhythmic sound like the best drumline. When the opponent has the ball, the fans try their best to make a loud erratic noise to throw off the other team’s timing. The Merlins overall had a good season, but a very bad postseason. As the second seed, they lost to the seventh seed in the first round of the playoffs. As a Viking fan, I can relate to that post season experience. Ingrid Konrad, an English teacher and former exchange student, looked just like a Minnesota sports fan when the Merlins went one and out.

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In my final thoughts, I loved my trip to Germany and being an ambassador for our city last year! I wish to express my deepest gratitude to both our community, the Worthington Crailsheim Committee headed by Janice Berger, and the German Crailsheim Committee, headed by Carola Schnabl, for making everything so easy for me. Also, a special thanks to my parents Scott and Karen Burns for helping me through it all. I want to acknowledge a special thank-you to Elfireide Kohr and all my German grandmothers for cooking me the greatest food of all time, Kaesespaetlze.

Recently, Mayor Kuhle wrote a letter to the Daily Globe talking about the five best things Worthington has going for her. I would like to add one more thing to that list that makes Worthington great, and that is our friendship with Crailsheim. Seventy years ago, our community reached out to a former enemy during a time of great suffering and chaos. A strong friendship has been built up over the years, and it all started with Marne Cashel, a young schoolgirl with a dream of going to the aid of others in need. I believe that our sense of community and of taking care of each other as symbolized by the Worthington Crailsheim partnership is also one of our city’s best features.  There are not many other towns that can say they have a sister-city program like ours. This is an important part of our heritage. Former Mayor Robert Demuth said the partnership is one of the most important parts of our community’s legacy.  My hope is that it will continue to benefit all the people of our community for many years to come.

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