Posted by: Shanie Matthews | March 19, 2010

High School Exchange Programs Broadening Horizons Through Scholarships

“You should do it, Shanie!”

My German teacher, a quiet and somber woman usually, was grinning from ear to ear. She tightly grasped a large packet of papers, her excitement for my future taking over her entire body. She shoved the full-color folder, titled Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, towards my chest.

“Ummm, what are you talking about?” I replied meekly. Being a shy 16 year old girl that was afraid to speak, I never spoke with much confidence or volume.

“Listen, this is a new scholarship program that has just been offered to all of the public schools in the nation. It is for juniors or seniors that can’t financially afford the exchange programs that are out there. As long as you have been in German for at least two years – which you have been in my class for three years now – and have a GPA of 3.0, you can apply for a full year of living in Germany with a host family.”

Santa Claus bellied men in brown lederhosen and busty women in Sound of Music dresses popped into my head. Then the giant, snow-blanketed Alps came to mind. It had always been a dream of mine to live among the mighty Alps, spending all of my time snow skiing the impressive peaks.

“Really? You really think I should try? I doubt I will be chosen. I do have a 3.2 GPA though. So at least I qualify there.” I rationalized out loud, not quite realizing I was even speaking. This was way too good to be true.

“Just take it home and look at it. You’ve got nothing to lose,” Frau Cozad put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a tight squeeze. “Maybe this could be a positive step for your future. Think about it.”

I hugged the information packet tightly in my arms as if it was my new safety blanket. What had Frau Cozad just given me?

Little did I know how much these 20 sheets of typed words were going to change my life for the better.

And so began my year abroad living in Germany…an opportunity given to me by the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. The scholarship offered me and 200 other teens the chance to realize a dream that would of otherwise been financially unfeasible.

Unfortunately, that gift of experience has since dissolved. But there is another program offering financial assistance to teenagers looking to experience an unknown culture and life…

Clements International is pleased to announce its 2nd annual Expat Youth Scholarship program for expatriate students. US$10,000 will be shared between six winning students, aged 12-18, of any nationality, who have spent the last two consecutive years living outside of their home country.

The scholarship contest offers expat students a chance to share their experiences of living in a foreign country through a 500-750 word essay and a creative image answering the question “Where would you go in your flying house?” The “flying house” is inspired by the idea that students who spend their childhoods moving between different countries and cultures acquire unique life experiences.

“We were overwhelmed by the success of our first scholarship contest last year and the positive response we received from the expat community,” said President Chris Beck.”We’re excited to do it again and look forward to hearing from expat students and their families living all over the world.”

The scholarship entry deadline is Thursday, May 13, 2010.



  1. I was lucky enough to be a student abroad on two different occasions. My first was when I was 17 during the summer between junior and senior year of high school I went to Italy with the Rotary Club. I am a firm believer that exchange programs, both domestic and international should be an educational requirement. Such a valuable experience for anyone!

  2. I so agree with you Chaska! It should be a scholastic requirement ipo too.

    I love Italy. What a great experience!

  3. […] day I found out I had received the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholarship, I went weak in the knees. Literally. I fell to the solid pavement of my driveway reading the […]

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