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One Year from One Word

I was seated crosswise at a faux wooden table, positioned with my back to the rest of the classroom and enjoying the lovely view out the classroom window, which featured the yellow bricks of the courtyard’s adjacent wall.

To my left sat my friend Ramia. We were both doing what every springtime senior did while they spent their afternoon in Advisory: nothing.  We had just settled in for our hour of study hall, which, among starting (but never finishing) homework and tying up loose ends before IB exams, included Netflix, sleeping, and checking emails.

The time was 1:09pm. I laid my phone on the table, positioning it between Ramia and myself. I unlocked the device, swiped left, tapped once, and the Mail app sprung to life. An immediate and habitual swipe down revealed Apple’s characteristic UIActivityIndicatorView (the loading spinner). After a second the screen populated with email subjects and two line previews.

Youth For Understanding USA
CBYX Scholarship Status
Dear CBYX Applicant, Congratulations! I am
happy to bring you and your family the wonderf…

What stood out most from these four lines was just one word in the preview pane.


My jaw dropped while a smile simultaneously began to pull the corners of my mouth skyward.

Ramia, seeing these few words as well, let out a slow and high pitched “Oh my God, Andrew!” I can still hear her words ringing in my ears. We made eye contact and then burst into an explosion of smiles. Concurrent feelings of absolute excitement, disbelief, shock, anticipation, joy, and more excitement assaulted my Limbic system. I rushed to tell the teachers and friends which I could find. Ramia, Ms. Honkala, Mrs. Vasille, Esther, and the entire Tenacious Twelve are all preserved in this unforgettable memory.

Today marks exactly one day since I received this email. The day which ushered in the opportunity for me to live, study, and travel for entire year im Ausland, forge relationships with my peers abroad, learn a new language, exercise self-reliance, independence, problem solving, and communication skills, and experience a unique transition as I grow into young-adulthood. This unforgettable and incomparable experience not only has yielded so much this year, but will continue to do so for years to come.

Thank you, Youth For Understanding. Thank you, CBYX. Thank you, Deutscher Bundestag. Thank you, Family Ladiges. Thank you, Schleiden. Thank you, Schumacher Family.

Ich danke Ihnen, weil Sie mir diese unglaubliche, unvergessliche, und konstruktive Erfahrung gegeben haben.



  • Nana |

    Wonderful! Our Congratulations also! I think you have a handle on some of the immediate and some of the far reaching benefits of your past year. As you continue in your life journey, you’ll undoubtedly discover even more as you live your life’s journey. Enjoy the rest of you European sojo ☺

  • Charlotte |

    It is so precious to have you here. I love to catch a glimpse of you every once in a while.
    I like to read your blog

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