Erdinger a year in America

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Von: Veronica Power

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Ready for the USA: Johann Wittenburg (r.) was bid farewell by MP Andreas Lenz in Erding. © power

Johann Wittenburg (16) from Erding is spending a high school year in Missouri as a scholarship holder of the German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP).

Erding – For a year in the land of unlimited opportunities: What many young people dream of becomes reality for Johann Wittenburg from Erding. The 16-year-old is spending a high school year in the USA thanks to a grant from the German Bundestag via the Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP).

(By the way: everything from the region is now also available in our regular Erding newsletter.)

He applied a year ago. Among other things, he had to explain why he wanted to go to America. “Because I always wanted to go there. My grandfather lived there and showed us photos and told us about tours. I got interested in that too. That was always my dream,” Wittenburg said at a meeting with CSU member of the Bundestag Andreas Lenz.

MdB Andreas Lenz (CSU) meets: “The young people are all very, very good”

He is Wittenburg’s godfather, and it is he who chooses the scholarship holder from his constituency after a pre-selection by the non-profit association for international understanding (GIVE). Lenz and his colleague Steffi Ederer are also the first points of contact for questions or problems during the exchange. Conversely, they look after the US scholarship holders who live with host families in the constituency. The selection wasn’t easy, emphasizes Lenz: “After the pre-selection, it’s always a blink of an eye, because the young people are all very, very good.”

As part of the PPP, the scholarship holders are intended to act as junior ambassadors for their country, so to speak, to improve understanding between the Federal Republic and the USA. Wittenburg has already met his host family – at least via Facetime. Two host sisters have already moved out, he says. But the host brother is his own age and is now coming to the school, “that’s practical,” says Wittenburg.

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It is the first trip to America for the 16-year-old – and the first such a long flight. On August 22nd, we will fly via Chicago to Springfield, the third largest city in the US state of Missouri. There he will go to high school for the next ten months – as one of more than 2000 students. “It will be a whole new experience,” Wittenburg is certain, since he last attended the relatively small Montessori school in Aufkirchen.

Football and architecture as school subjects

Courses such as American history or English are now compulsory. Wittenburg chose art, French and an engineering or architecture course. And he definitely wants to play football – no wonder, since the young man has been playing for the Erding Bulls for five years.

“I’m a bit nervous, but the joy outweighs it,” says the 16-year-old and says he’s also looking forward to festivals like Halloween or Christmas. “Is that really how you see it in the movies? I look forward to being able to experience that.”

Wittenburg does not yet know exactly what he will pack in his suitcase for the ten months. Definitely plenty of party favors. German games like “Mensch ärgere dich nicht”, but also a fountain pen for his host brother, a gingerbread heart for the host mum and a German cookbook for the host dad.

All information about the PPP

The Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP) is a joint program of the Bundestag and the US Congress and gives schoolchildren and young professionals the opportunity to spend a year on an exchange in the USA with a scholarship from the German Bundestag. The application period for the 40th PPP in 2023/24 ends on September 9th. Info: www.bundestag.de/ppp.

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