After graduation, senior biology and German double major, Tessa Fenstermaker is planning to embark on a year-long student exchange program in Germany.
The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) program provides two months of intensive German language training in Germany, four months of classroom instruction at a German university or college of applied sciences, and a five-month internship in each participant’s career field.
The year-long fellowship program has no affiliations with BW Study Abroad, but it is a separate entity funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State in which 75 American and 75 German students are selected to participate in the annual exchange. Therefore, out of approximately 600 applicants across the United States, Fenstermaker was selected to be one of the 75 American exchange students.
“Tessa is the third student I’ve ever had to be awarded this opportunity, since I’ve been a professor here,” said German Professor Stephen Hollender. The last student from Baldwin Wallace University to take part in the fellowship, he said, was over a decade ago.
“I would say maybe fifteen to twenty years,” said Hollender. “It’s been awhile. You have to have students who want to spend time abroad but you also have to have good students and you have to be lucky. I’ve had a lot of people that have applied in the last few years that didn’t make it through the final phase and they were very good students.”
CBYX specifically focuses on students with career goals in business and technical fields which relates to Fenstermaker, who is involved with the sciences.
“It’s kind of a big deal for [BW] to have somebody go on this,” said Hollender. “It’s certainly a prestigious [award] to get.”
Currently, Fenstermaker does not know which specific location in Germany she will be placed, only that she will be living with a host family.
“The application and interview process is kind of geared towards picking people who are ok with that,” said Fenstermaker, “because I think it would stress a lot of people out not knowing exactly where they’re going. [Applicants also] had to submit a resume, so they picked people with skills that would be translatable for working abroad in Germany.”
For the interview process, Fenstermaker traveled to Chicago’s Goethe-Institut where she had three meetings with other students from the midwest.
“I flew out to Chicago by myself for this interview and it was kind of nerve-racking because it was broken up into individual interviews, but also a group interview,” said Fenstermaker.
Behind her initial interest in the program, Fenstermaker said that her aspirations to graduate in 3 years made it difficult to study abroad at BW.
“I didn’t get to do study abroad while I was doing the rest of my studies, because it was so accelerated and there was never that option,” said Fenstermaker. “I’ve always wanted to go to Germany. I got to go once before but it was a week and a half trip in high school –I didn’t know much German then, so I really wanted to go to use the language skills that I’ve picked up and also make them better.”
By the end of the summer, the 75 Americans selected will prepare to take flight.
“There will be an orientation in D.C. and the group of American students will fly out on August 1st to Germany together,” said Fenstermaker.
The funded fellowship opportunity will cover the cost of basic living expenses such as round-trip airfare, tuition costs, housing costs, a monthly stipend to basic costs of living, transportation costs within Germany and health insurance.
According to www.cia.gov, the United States makes $1,576,000,000,000 in exports with Germany not far behind making $1,401,000,000,000 in the year 2017.
“It’s pretty remarkable that Germany has a measly 80 million people, which is large for European standards, but it’s a third of the number of people that live in the United States,” said Hollender. “We have 327,000,000 and they have 80,000,000 and they’re barely behind us in the amount that they export.”
Being that Germany is the third largest exporting country in the world, closely behind the United States, the country “gets overlooked… in which you might want to do business and there are also many German companies operating right here in the United States, even something as simple as Aldi or Trader Joe’s,” said Hollender. “I think that [CBYX] is a really great chance for Americans to learn about an extremely important trade partner, as well as an ally.”