Ambassador to Germany addresses rotaryShe’s not the Ambassador who lives in the embassy, but a young lady who lives in Silver Bay. Sonja Smerud spoke recently to the North Shore Rotary Club after returning from a year in Germany on the Rotary Youth Exchange program.
She’s not the Ambassador who lives in the embassy, but a young lady who lives in Silver Bay. Sonja Smerud spoke recently to the North Shore Rotary Club after returning from a year in Germany on the Rotary Youth Exchange program.
Her talk impressed upon her parents Peter and Susan as well as the many community leaders present , that she must have been a wonderful ambassador for the USA and for North Shore Rotary.
Outfitted in the traditional dirndl dress, Sonja happily described her life-changing experience living with four different families in Bavaria amongst the foothills of the Alps. With several marvelous photos and infectious enthusiasm, she recounted her many adventures in this new culture and told of visiting six other European countries.
Although Sonja did speak some German prior to leaving the USA, she returned completely fluent. She attended the 11th grade in the Gymnasium (German High School) and studied courses similar to the curriculum here in the U.S. However, there were several significant differences, she said. The education system in Germany is divided into three “tracks” so at an early age, students are directed into different levels of schooling depending upon their abilities. Another big difference is that she had no classes in the afternoons.
Next year, Smerud will be a senior attending William Kelley High School in Silver Bay. She plans on going to college following high school and will no doubt be a terrific ambassador there too. For over 75 years, students and host families have broadened their horizons through Rotary Youth Exchange.
More than 80 countries and over 8,000 students each year participate in the program. Rotary clubs are made up of volunteers who are involved in community service, emphasize high ethical standards, and work toward peace and understanding in the world. Over 1.2 million Rotarians in more than 33,000 clubs create the extensive network that provides support for Youth Exchange.