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Albany student set to take trip of a lifetime

Westover High junior Andrew Nilquette will spend a year studying in Europe beginning in a few weeks. He’ll share his experiences with friends back home and Albany Herald readers with periodic articles in The Herald’s SouthView section and at albanyherald.com. (July 6, 2013)

Westover High junior Andrew Nilquette will spend a year studying in Europe beginning in a few weeks. He’ll share his experiences with friends back home and Albany Herald readers with periodic articles in The Herald’s SouthView section and at albanyherald.com. (July 6, 2013)

ALBANY, Ga. -- In just a few weeks, Westover High School junior Andrew Niquette will kiss his mother, Lisa, goodbye and board a plane bound for Germany for a year as part of a student exchange program.

Andrew will spend three weeks in Frankfurt, Germany, in a language and cultural immersion camp before being placed with an unknown family in an unknown city for the next year.

FOREIGN CORRSPONDENCE

During his year-long journey to Germany, Andrew Niquette, of Albany, has agreed to keep the folks back home updated on experiences with periodic columns. They'll appear in The Albany Herald's SouthView section.

"The thing I am most looking forward to is the experience itself," Andrew, 16, said. "I am looking forward to getting away from American society and immersing myself in German society."

Jointly funded by the German Bundestag and the U.S. Congress, the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program is a full scholarship exchange program that offers 50 of 25,000 young Americans the opportunity to live with a host family and attend high school in Germany for a year.

As a CBYX Scholar, Andrew will spend the 2013-14 school year in Germany. The program was created to strengthen the ties between Germany and the U.S. through citizen diplomacy.

While eager to begin his adventure, Andrew still has a few concerns.

"I"m a little worried about my host family and how we will interact. ... I just don't know how it will all work out," he said. "I speak and understand some German, but I want to be placed with a family where no English will be spoken.

"I also hope the trip doesn't set me back academically because all my classes will be taught in German."

There are four levels of high schools in Germany. Andrew will be placed at the "gymnasium" level -- the country's highest secondary education plateau.

Since its inception in 1983, the CBYX program has awarded more than 19,000 scholarships to students from around the U.S. who wish to expand their cultural perspective. Many students who complete the program go on to attend some of the top universities in America.

Andrew's goal is to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he'd like to pursue a degree in Bio-Technical Engineering.

But first comes a year in Germany. When he returns home next year, Andrew said he'd like to bring back a better understanding of Germany and America.

"I kind of consider myself as an ambassador for my country," he said. "I'd like to use the knowledge I gain to be able to make a comparison between the two societies and governments based on first-hand experiences."