By Leah Ellis
“I was shocked. After I sent in my application, I honestly did not expect to make it, much less a response,” said senior Hank Duncan.
This past summer, Duncan received a study/travel scholarship to Germany which allowed him to stay with a host family and attend a German school. The award was given to him by the American Association of Teachers of German [AATG], which is a board of examiners from the national office who judge applicants on speaking, reading, and writing skills and on an overall test score of 90 percent or higher.
Once Duncan was chosen, the process was not finished yet.
“After that [the test], I had to interview with three German teachers and professors over the phone in German, which was probably the most nervous I had ever been,” said Duncan.
As the nerves began to fade, shock set in.
“I was actually in an airport coming back from spring break vacation when I got an email saying that I received the Study Trip Award. My parents, who had even less confidence than I did, joined me in simply sitting there in shock and disbelief,” said Duncan.
Although Duncan was shocked, German teacher Noel McRae was not.
“He is a hard worker and tries to speak a lot in class. He is open to a lot of things and has a good personality, which certainly helps in a foreign environment,” said McRae.
Duncan was accompanied by roughly 30 other kids from across the country and gone for about four weeks.
“He is the first one we have had that I know of to win this award. I have had students qualify before but some did not have the desire or GPA, etc.,” said McRae.
Not only was this a first for an FC student, but for Duncan, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that led to some realizations for him.
“It made me realize what true freedom and responsibility is. I walked everywhere, took the subway, and roamed the city,” said Duncan.
Aside from being in Germany to experience school life, Duncan also got to absorb the cultural life.
“My [other] favorite part was experiencing Germany win the World Cup. When I was in Berlin, we went to the Brandenburg Gate for the public viewing of the Germany vs Brazil match with 150,000 other people. When Germany scored five goals in the first 30 minutes, it was absolute mayhem. For the finale I went to a small party with my host brother and his friends. After Germany won, we walked to the main train station and celebrated among the honking cars and screaming fans,” said Duncan.
Duncan, who hopes to attend Indiana University Bloomington and double major in international business and finance said this opportunity will benefit future plans.
“Since I would like to study German in college, this trip provided me with a head start on the language. Also, this program made me realize that I want to go back to Germany and perhaps eventually live there.
McRae also sees a significant benefit for his future.
“Travel is always an enriching opportunity when you can see new things and meet new people, you will grow as a person. It also allows you to view your own culture in a whole new perspective,” said McRae.