WA students win free trip to Germany


Jackie Clay

Pravar Mukkala, Brady Burrell, and Maggie Burrows (shown left to right) are the winners of a trip to Germany.

Jackie Clay, Club Manager

Every year, the foreign language teachers advertise the upcoming national language exams. The exams cost a few bucks and are seen as low stress. The participant doesn’t have to study, and they just show up and take the test. No big deal. When the results come back, the participant can get a bronze, silver, or even gold medal if they score high enough. Then they usually forget about it; it doesn’t go any further. This is almost always the case, unless they are a German student.

When German students achieve the 90th percentile in the National German Exam (NGE), they are eligible for the experience of a lifetime. This was what happened to three WA students, sophomore Maggie Burrows, sophomore Brady Burrell, and junior Pravar Mukkala, when they earned the American Association of Teachers of German and Pädagogischer Austauschdienst (AATG/PAD) National German Exam Scholarship.

The scholarship is provided by the Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Foreign and the Pedagogical Exchange Service.

“The German government gives a lot of money to this stuff,” German teacher Tim Welch said. “And there are always these types of opportunities for teachers and students and that’s really cool because not every country has a thing like this.”

In order to be eligible, applicants must not live in a German speaking household nor have visited a German speaking country for more than two consecutive weeks.

Burrows, Burrell, and Mukkala filled out an introductory application in German once they learned of their NGE placement that put them into an interview process. The students then participated in an interview completely in German.

Once they had passed the interviews, these WA students had to take the STAMP test. This is the same test that students take to receive the Seal of Biliteracy. After the exams, the final scholarship recipients were announced, and this year these three students received the honor.

“It’s like our short-term exchange, but all expenses paid. We haven’t had winners in a while and now we have three in the same year, which is amazing,” Welch said.

Mukkala won the Internationales Preisträgerprogramm (IPP) award, which allows him to stay for four weeks in Germany while Burrell and Burrows will be traveling with the Deutschland Plus program for a three week trip.

“I think it will be cool to see how people live in a different part of the world and see the cultural differences,” Burrows said. “We get so used to our everyday lives that sometimes we forget that people live differently.”

Like many WA exchange programs, Burrows, Burrell, and Mukkala will be staying with a host family. None of the students have been matched with a host family yet, but Burrows and Burrell will be staying in the town of Kiel, close to the northern border between Germany and Denmark.

This program is meant to enrich the process of learning German for students and immerse them into the language with time spent in school and traveling.

“I think [the school] will actually help me with talking to people and my speaking skills will probably vastly improve. Then after that, like the traveling part, I think my cultural awareness and history and all that will improve,” Mukkala said. “I think you need both to learn a language.”

The prospect of the trip is very exciting for Burrows, Burrell, and Mukkala, as it offers an opportunity to continue with the German language over the summer and travel. When faced with the prospect of going on this amazing adventure, the winners expressed great interest, excitement, and nerves.

“Hopefully I will improve my German skills and make some nice memories there,” Burrell said.