German high school student speaks at local Rotary Club

Sophie Wagner and Jim Dean talk to Cullowhee Rotary. Photo: Mark Mattheis.

German exchange student Sophie Wagner was this week’s program at Cullowhee Rotary. Program Chairman Jeffery Vickery introduced Pastor Jim Dean from the Summit Church who described the process of finding and hosting a student for a year.
Sophie, age 16, who is from Schwerin, Germany, used the organization Ayusa, which stands for an Academic Year in the USA to make her connection. She explained this non-profit cultural exchange organization is very thorough and it took a year before she was ready to travel to the USA.  In the mean time the Dean family was also looking for a student they could host. With the connection made Sophie arrived in August to become the newest member of the Dean family and spend her junior year at Smoky Mountain High.
Explaining noticeable differences between her home and here, though beautiful, her homeland is very flat. Students in her area learn both English and Russian while in school and she will have two more years on her return. While at SMH she has enrolled in courses not available back home such as photography and she can usually be seen playing tennis after school. Sports are a club activity in most countries and not associated directed with an educational institution.
Sophie commented on the American obsession with automobiles, which she plans to take advantage of while in the states. SMH offers drivers education so Sophie can drive with an instructor. Students must be 18 in Germany before they can drive and the process is very expensive.  She prefers to ride her bike to and from SMH and finds the mountains very appealing.
Sophie has traveled to the USA before, visiting several tourist locations.  For now she
just wants to live the home life with her host family and take in the outdoor activities of the area. A trip to Florida would be welcomed during her visit, but she is very content and happy with her future year in Western North Carolina.