Julia Amtmann, a German native from the suburbs of Munich, just finished her foreign exchange program in the United States with the Lee family in Milford. While staying with the Lee family Julia attended Milford Senior High School and was able to experience the life of the average American teenager.
Julia is part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program which was set up in 1983 by the United States and Germany to celebrate the camaraderie between the two countries and to prepare students of both countries for the growing global community. Out of over 2,000 applicants Julia was only one of 200 students who were qualified to participate in this program. ASSE International Student Exchange Program facilitated the process of placing her with a host family and preparing Julia and the Lee family for the unique experience.
Helen and Jacob Lee, Julia’s host family, decided to get involved with the ASSE Program after they had seen friends, Tom and Henrietta Chilton, host a foreign student from Japan. The Lees were able to select which country the student would be from and choose Germany because they had traveled to the country before when Jacob was in the Air Force and had a desire to learn more about the country.
“It was a great experience and more people need to participate in the student exchange program,” stated Helen. “Other countries need to know that Americans are good people. It was an honor to be a representative for America.”
When Julia arrived at the Lee household, Helen and Jacob tried to teach Julia about American history, culture and the language. Although Julia was fluent in English the method she had learned in her studies was more of a British dialect.
While in America Julia was able to visit several interesting locations including Times Square, the mountains of Vermont, Disneyland and Disneyworld. She enjoyed shopping, dancing, theatre, tennis and field hockey with her friends at Milford High School.
“It was such a great experience,” commented Julia. “I was able to visit so many different parts of America and I met so many people and got to know what the American lifestyle is all about.”
While getting accustomed to the American school system Julia noticed subtle but importance difference from back home in Germany. In German there are no afternoon activities. Students do have gym, art and other classes during the day but there is no baseball or other team sports for the students to participate. Also, the school day in Germany does not end at a specific time every day like in the United States but rather when the lesson is completed. For this reason German children in the same school will be dismissed at different times based on their individual lessons.
“What I most enjoyed about school were the students,” stated Julia. “They were all very welcoming and I felt that from the first day I was already included in everything.”
During her stay, Julia volunteered over 100 hours in local community organizations including the Food Bank of Delaware, The Girl Scouts of America and the VFW. Julia will be leaving for home later this month with a lifetime full of experiences.
“We will be sad to see her leave us,” commented Helen. “She has been a great ambassador for Germany. She speaks English very well and has a very outgoing personality.”
Julia plans on returning to the United States in the near future and has mixed feeling about leaving for Germany.
“I am excited to see my family and friends back home but I am sad to be leaving my American experience,” stated Julia.
The ASSE Program is a great way for individuals and families to experience another culture from around the world. The program not only brings foreign students into the United States but also allows American students to experience other countries abroad. Julia and the Lee family look forward to reuniting in Germany next year and hope to build a strong connection between individuals, families and countries.