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Stilly Valley School grad studies in Germany
ARLINGTON Alex Oczkewicz missed the Fourth of July in Arlington this year. Thats about when Stillaguamish Valley School Class of 2007 graduate started his year abroad in Germany.
Oczkewicz is one of only 76 Americans nationwide who was selected for this years Congress Bundestag Vocational Exchange Program, which offers scholarships for one year of study in Germany at the post-high school level.
Ill be in Washington, D.C., July 4, meeting with government officials and learning how to be a good ambassador for my country, Oczkewicz said before he left. By July 7, Ill be in Hamburg, Germany, with a host family, learning the language for the next two months. After that, Ill be going to school two days a week and doing machine work three days a week, until I come back around April.
While the company he will work at as an intern has yet to be determined, SVS Class of 2006 graduate Jesse Long worked for Daimler-Benz in Saarbrucken last year. Outgoing SVS German teacher Sue Webber explained the commitment that will be required of Oczkewicz.
He has to be able to represent the U.S. in a positive light, Webber said. He also has to be able to stick with it for the year, without having to bail out before then. When they interview kids for this program, theyre looking for the type of people who will make Germans say, Wow, so thats America! It must be a cool place, to have people like Alex!
Oczkewicz was considerably more modest about his own qualifications, although he admitted that he might have impressed interviewers with tales of his Alaskan fishing trips with his father, which required him to brave the elements. Hes looking forward to having new stories to share from his experiences in Germany.
About halfway through, all the students will meet in Berlin to discuss how its going, said Oczkewicz, who will be part of a VIP tour through the Bundestag. I already did a one-month trip to Germany and I really wanted to go back to see more of the country and its culture. It has such beautiful architecture, with lots of old buildings and castles, that I feel like I hardly saw anything before so why not go back?
Oczkewicz acknowledged that the language will be a challenge, but he feels confident that a combination of total immersion and effort on his part will help him learn.
As for Webber, she touted the opportunities afforded by such a scholarship, since living in a foreign country as a student could be prohibitively expensive otherwise.