Starting his exchange year in Missouri by becoming captain of his high school soccer team was easy for Moritz Hütgen. His can-do attitude has led to a dynamic “second life” as a CBYX participant. Following his Participant of the Month profile last November, we wanted to check in to see what’s been happening since Thanksgiving.
Congratulations, Moritz, on being named the CBYX German Participant of the Month in November 2019. What have been some of the highlights of your CBYX experience since last November?
Thank you so much for your congratulations. I’m spending a great time here in the United States and I experienced a lot in this relatively short time. With my host family and friends I had a lot of fun and according to that, I have a lot of highlights to talk about. A great experience for me has been Thanksgiving. I never participated in this national holiday because it‘s not a big deal in my home country, Germany. The food was delicious and it was great to come together with family and friends. Another highlight for me personally was Christmas. It was great to experience traditions of my host family and also to include some of my traditions in my host family’s Christmas this year.
It’s truly impressive you became captain of your high school soccer team just weeks after arriving! How did you manage that? And how does youth soccer culture compare in Germany and the United States?
It was a great privilege for me to become captain of my high school soccer team. I‘ve been captain in some of my former soccer clubs in Germany as well and I was very happy to lead my team here in the U.S. Soccer culture in my opinion is very similar all over the world. You just need a ball, some people and it doesn’t matter where you are from or what language you speak. Soccer brings people together to interact with each other and to have a fun time. It was a great opportunity for me as well to find friends and to make connections in the beginning of my exchange year.
What is it like to live with the Ralston family in St. Peters, Missouri? Can you tell a little bit about your trip to Chicago together? What are some of your favorite things you did with your host brother?
I enjoy being around my host family a lot. It‘s great to have a second home on the other side of the world! I don’t have any siblings back in Germany and with my two host brothers in the U.S. I have a lot of fun and make many new experiences every single day. Also, with my host brothers I love playing soccer, going on trips or just talking to each other. During winter break we went on a short trip to Chicago together. My host family and I visited family in Chicago and explored this huge city. We went to museums together, saw the unique Shedd Aquarium and enjoyed the incredible view of Chicago‘s skyline.
What is it like to be an international student in Missouri? Have you discovered German traces in the region? How are you communicating modern Germany to the people in your community?
Many people in Missouri actually have ancestors from Germany that came over hundreds of years ago. Furthermore here in St. Peter’s, many street names are German. It’s awesome to talk to people about my home country because most of them are very interested, curious and open-minded. I enjoy answering questions to host family, friends or just random people. Also, to present my home country to my classmates, I gave a few presentations in school to teach them about my habits and everyday activities in Germany.
Tell us a little bit about the Civic Education Week in Washington, DC. Were there any surprises? Did you learn about other German CBYX experiences in the U.S.? What were your impressions of the capital of the United States?
The civic education week in the capital of the United States – Washington, D. C. – is a great opportunity to enlarge your personal horizon. I learned a lot about the history of the United States by seeing many different museums, monuments and galleries. In our groups, we talked about leadership skills and also about the experiences of other exchange students so far. I also had the opportunity to talk to my House Representative and staff members of my Congressmen on the Capitol Hill Day. It was a very busy week that definitely counts towards my highlights in the U.S.
What do you hope to take with you from CBYX back to Germany? Why do you think CBYX matters?
The CBYX program is an essential program to ensure a good partnership between Germany and the United States. It helps to understand differences in culture and everyday life. It is very important to keep programs like this alive to create friendships between people, families, and countries. When I get home, I’ll tell a lot of people about my great experiences in the United States.