I can easily say that my experience with STEP (Short Term Exchange Program) changed my life. The summer of 2016, I participated in STEP with my host sister Anne, from Lingen, Germany. During our 6 weeks together, Anne and I spent time meeting each other’s friends and family, exploring our hometowns, tutoring each other in German and English, etc., My family and I had so much fun exploring Northern California with Anne and I cherish the memories I made with Anne in her family exploring both the small city of Lingen and the bigger cities like Hamburg and Berlin. Some of my favorite memories though were those BBQs or picnics with each other’s family and friends in both Petaluma and Lingen.
I am so grateful that Anne and I are still in contact! She and her family came back to America in Summer 2018 and we were able to share my family’s 4th of July traditions with them, along with exploring San Francisco. It was such an amazing experience to have our two families meet after years of only knowing each other through stories. I was looking forward to seeing them again in Fall 2020 for my study abroad in Germany, but with COVID, I am counting the days till I can get back over and see them again!
This spring I will be graduating with a BA in German and a minor in International Business and am excited for my next chance to return to Germany now that I can finally speak the language. Taking part in STEP not only sparked my interests for my career but gave me the chance to grow and learn that great things can happen when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s in my professional career or a personal hobby, I plan to keep German a part of my life and am grateful that STEP introduced me to something I love, along with new people that I love and experiences that I will hold close to me for my lifetime. Thank you, Rotary for all that you do for groups and individuals alike!