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Exchange Program Opens Student's Eyes

August 10, 2000|JOSH GOLDSTEIN

Tala Rezai spent what would have been her first year of college doing something she found equally eye-opening: living in Germany as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program.

Rezai, 19, talked about her experience after returning home in July.

She lived with a German family, learned how to speak German from people instead of books and traveled throughout Europe in her free time.

Before she left home, Germany was a place she didn't know much about. But in her time there, Rezai broadened her scope about different world cultures, she said.

"I am more mature," she said. "I look at things in a more global view."

The program, funded partly through Congress, allows United States high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates to spend a year living in Germany. Students serve as tutors in local high schools in cities throughout the country and learn a bit about the German Bundestag, or the German equivalent to Congress.

Rezai applied for the scholarship on a whim. When she was awarded the $10,000 grant, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity and put off college for a year.

Back from the trip and ready to enter UCLA as an international studies major, Rezai looks at her hometown differently, she said.

"Americans are consumers," she said. "We waste a lot more."

For more information about the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, call (800) 833-6243.

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