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German exchange student completes year at South Lakes

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South Lakes sophomore Juliana Tran returns to her family in Germany on June 30 after a year’s participation in a foreign exchange program that brought her to the United States.

Tran started the exchange program, Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange, and arrived in the United States on August 5. She has lived with a host family in Fairfax County.

The program is titled CBYX because Congress is the American government and Bundestag is the German government.   The CBYX sends American students to Germany and vice versa with a goal to help students learn about the different cultures and governments.

“The perspectives are really different between how the U.S. sees something and how I see something,” said Tran. “I think it has been really interesting to see things from a different view point.”

Tran said that the program is mostly a scholarship which enables students to have a year to live and learn in a different country. It also has many political aspects and is tied closely to international relations.

“I don’t know if I am going to work with politics in the future,” said Tran “I want to work as an ambassador and with diplomacy.”

Because the program is very political, Tran and others enrolled in the program visit Washington D.C. multiple times to attend American-German ceremonies. Tran’s last trip was June 7 during the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.

CBYX is a cultural immersion program in which participants are immersed in the culture, politics, and lifestyle of their travel destination. Tran has had to speak English, start at a new school, and acclimate herself in a society different from her own.

Tran has not returned to Germany since she arrived 9 months ago and has not been able to see her family. Though Tran does have family on the west coast, her parents are in Germany.

“It was really hard to spend a year away from my family, and I really miss them,” said Tran. “Thankfully we have Skype and Facebook so I can still see them.”

Tran has looked back fondly on her time in the states and with her host family and the friends she had made.

“This whole trip has been really amazing and has made me independent,” said Tran “I think I really grew up during this trip.”

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