Ratingen Ratinger SPD deputy Kerstin Griese has taken on the sponsorship of the 18-year-old student.
(RP) The praise is there promptly. “I am very impressed that a student from Chicago can speak fluent German,” says Kerstin Griese when she met Conley Knauff and his host family in Ratingen. The SPD MP has taken on the sponsorship of Knauff, who came to Germany on a scholarship from the Bundestag and the US Congress.
The 18-year-old learned some German at school in the USA. Since the summer of last year he has been attending the final year at the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker High School with the advanced courses in English and history.
“It’s a totally different perspective,” says Knauff about learning things in history that don’t happen in American schools. Nina Arnold, who is part of Conley’s host family along with her parents and sister, is in the same grade.
“I took it everywhere with me,” she says of the music school. While Nina Arnold plays the oboe in the local orchestra, Conley Knauff even masters three instruments: guitar, horn and piano. He feels visibly comfortable in his temporary home. “It’s a stereotype that all Germans are so unfriendly,” he emphasizes, and explains the image Americans have of Germany. He likes Ratingen anyway: “Everything is very close and compact here.” While parts of the USA are already huge cities, in Ratingen he can reach everything by bike.
Knauff noticed that there were also major differences in the political systems of the two countries. He finds the large number of political parties in Germany surprising. He would therefore like to know from Kerstin Griese why she chose the SPD. “It’s the mixture of social justice and standing up for future opportunities,” replies the deputy without thinking for long.
Griese thanked Wolfgang and Petra Arnold for hosting the US guest student. “Close relations between Europe and America are more important today than ever,” says Griese, who has been actively involved in the Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP) for 19 years.
Anyone who would like to host a guest student with a view to the PPP can contact the exchange organization Youth for Understanding at email@example.com.