Holt High School senior Megan Wood has been awarded a scholarship through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program to study in Germany. Wood will spend an entire academic year in the country, with two to three host families, representing her school and country as she learns more about the German culture, traditions and language.
“Through this opportunity I hope to gain better appreciation of other cultures and languages, as well as my own,” Wood said. “I hope to be able to bring back what I learn and share it with friends and family. I really hope to be proficient and as close as I can get to fluency in German, because I have always wanted to be able to speak more than one language.”
Wood took German her first year of high school, then took it the next step by wading into Pre-Advanced Placement (AP) German classes, and capped off her German studies with a full AP German language and culture class. Soon, she will dive right into German culture by studying within the country, itself. “Honestly, I chose to take German because I heard Holt had an amazing German Teacher,” Wood said. “It was – by far – one of the best decisions I've made in high school, because I instantly fell in love with it! I absolutely love learning the language and about the culture, so I want to immerse myself in it, to be able to better understand the German way of life.
That “amazing German teacher,” Sunny Ray Serna, was an exchange student in her senior year, as well, and knows firsthand how this opportunity can change Wood’s future for the better. Serna said, "I am beyond ecstatic for Megan and this amazing opportunity to live and study abroad. She will be able to build on and apply what she learned in the classroom to the real world. By taking advantage of this, I know she will not only grow as an individual, but also set herself apart in the future, opening many doors academically and professionally." In fact, one of Serna’s former students - who also took advantage of the Rotary Scholarship - is actually the scholarship outreach liaison with whom she put Wood in contact to help make this happen.
For Wood, this is the best way to prepare for her career. “Another reason I have taken the interest in going to Germany is because I aspire to be a German teacher and I know this opportunity would help me immensely with my career goals.” However, she admits she is also looking forward to just taking in the scenery and history of Germany. “I’ve been to parts of southern Germany and it was beautiful. Since I've been to some of the cities in southern Germany, I am hoping to be able to see parts of Northern Germany and possibly Berlin, but I will be happy with wherever I go and have the opportunity to see!”
Holt High will have an exchange student through the same program next year, but the student and country of origin have not yet been confirmed. The Rotary Youth Exchange program began in the late 1920s, and now over 8,500 students participate every year from over 70 countries. Wood’s scholarship is estimated to have a value of $20,000, including room and board, and tuition to a local high school in the host country.