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Rotary foreign exchange student heading home

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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Ben from GermanyBen from GermanyBen, a foreign exchange student from Germany who attended Livingston High School this past year, will head home to Germany on July 5. Ben came to Livingston through the Rotary International foreign exchange student program and lived with three local families over the past year. Ben spoke to the Rotary Club of Livingston Thursday.

This wasn’t Ben’s first program for Rotary. He also addressed the club last fall when he introduced himself. He is from Gttingen, a university city in Lower Saxony, central Germany, and he said the population is about 118,000. He said the Max Planck Institute for Science and HAWK University are both located there.

“We have a beautiful city scape. I had a really nice life there,” he said. “Germany is a middle big country in Europe. We don’t really have the best history. We have had some dictatorships. But we have some good parts. We have a really good healthcare system and all that stuff.

“The wall fell in 1989 and that was a really exciting step in our history. We came together as one country again, not divided. It was a hard time for our country but now we’re all together,” Ben said, adding that there have been a number of people from his country to win the Nobel prize.

As for his time in Texas, Ben said, “I’m so grateful for the Rotary Club and for this opportunity. I’m grateful for the things I’ve learned during this journey.”

Although Ben “graduated” in May with Livingston’s senior class, he said that there are 13 grades in Germany so upon his return home, he will be returning to school.

When asked what he will miss the most about the U.S., he said Gatorade. As for other things he’s experienced in the states that Germany doesn’t have, Ben said he enjoys Cajun food, specifically crawfish, and also barbecue brisket.

“I’ve gotten used to the Texas heat and I like it. We have more rain than heat,” he said.

Ben said that Germany has something called a “culture year,” similar to what is called a “gap year” in the states. Upon finishing school in Germany, he said he will probably use that culture year to travel. “I may go to Asia and South America and places I’ve never been. Experiencing different cultures is a passion of mine.”

Ben said he is looking forward to seeing his family and friends but that he definitely plans to return to Texas in the future to visit.


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