Of five American students chosen as recipient of the Founder’s Scholarship through Council for Education Travel U.S.A. (CETUSA), two of them are from Montcalm County.
CETUSA is a global exchange program designed to help people from different cultures develop compassion and understanding for others, according to cetusa.org.
The Founder’s Scholarship is a 10-month academic program allowing five American students to live and study overseas in Germany.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to gain a world view that will change (Amy’s) life forever,” said Tom Staten, father of Amy Staten of Greenville, who was chosen as an alternate to receive the scholarship.
Tom Staten said it was a competitive scholarship opportunity where Amy Staten had to fill out information regarding her schooling, community services and extracurricular activities, along with writing an essay regarding why she wanted to spend a year in Germany and why she believed cultural exchange was important.
“Initially, Amy was not in the top five, but listed as the first alternate in case of a dropout,” Amy’s mother Kristi Staten said. “It all happened so fast.”
Because she was an alternate, the family only had nine days to get her ready to go to Germany. She will be staying in Reichenback in Oldenwald, Germany, and attending an all-girls school near Heppenhiem
The Staten family hosted an exchange student named Sandra from Hong Kong last year, which is how the family discovered the scholarship opportunity when they received a newsletter from the program.
The Founder’s Scholarship is a $8,700 scholarship, which is the estimated cost of covering the experience, providing insurance, activities hosted by CETUSA, staffing and education.
It was up to the Staten family to cover the plane ticket (almost $1,500) and provide a monthly amount for spending money if Amy Staten needs it.
“It is up to the German host family how much they provide above and beyond room and board,” Tom Staten said. “When we hosted Sandra, our family made a decision at the very beginning we would only host if she was an equal part of the family. We helped her get past language barriers and studied with her late each night to get through school and worked to get her accepted into college here. Each hosting family has the choice of what to provide and the only requirement is room and board, but most do so much more.”
While on the trip, Amy Staten will have the opportunity to visit France to experience another culture.
“We also have friends at church that hosted an exchange students from Germany many years ago and that family wishes to meet up with Amy to take her on a couple trips to see different areas while she is over there,” Tom Staten said.
Although, Amy Staten arrived several days later than the rest of the scholarship winners, she is catching up quite fast while learning the Germany language, which she did not know before leaving.
“She is trading her senior year with friends she has known for 12 years in Greenville — prom, walking in graduation, senior mystery trip, and everything she knows — and is comfortable with for a once
in a lifetime opportunity,” Tom Staten said.
Amy Staten has a blog about her experience that can be followed at mygermanexperience.weebly.com.
Trenton Taylor of Lakeview was one of the original five students chosen as a Founder’s Scholarship recipient in March.
He will be studying in Frankfurt, Germany, about three hours north from where Amy Staten is staying.
Taylor and his family found out about the scholarship through a program where they have hosted exchange students in the past. His mother, Laura Taylor, said they have hosted five students altogether.
Laura Taylor explained the processes her son had to go through to get the scholarship including essays, teacher recommendations, questionnaires and more.
“We found out he was accepted on March 1 and he left for Germany on Aug. 14,” she said.
Prepping Taylor for Germany was not too difficult, according to his mother. She said as soon as Taylor found out who his host parents were, they began to email each other, making sure Taylor was well prepared for his year-long trip.
“She is a wonderful lady, who has been through the process before,” Laura Taylor said.
Before leaving, Taylor studied German to try to get well acquainted with the language. Before starting school, he was in a two-week study group in Germany with the other students learning German and more to help better prepare them.
“It went quite well,” Laura Taylor said.
While in Germany, Taylor will be trying out for a soccer team, which is something his mom said he is the most excited about.
Although Taylor is not keeping a blog during his trip, Laura Taylor said he is keeping friends and family updated through posts on Facebook.