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She came to learn, and earn

November 02, 2004|by JANET HEIM

janeth@herald-mail.com

American politics are intriguing to German exchange student Nadja Korinth and she has been counting the days until today's election. Korinth and her host family, though, are backing different presidential candidates.

"We're a house divided," said host "mom" Korby Sanders, adjunct faculty member of music at Hagerstown Community College.

In her hometown of Horst in northern Germany, Korinth is the equivalent of a county commissioner, the youngest in their history.

This is the first time Korinth, 22, has been to the U.S. She will spend a year in the United States participating in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals.

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The exchange, in its 21st year, is a work-study scholarship program sponsored jointly by the U.S. Congress and the German Parliament, known as Bundestag. It is run by international training organizations in each country and provides international opportunities for Americans as well as Germans.

HCC was one of seven charter schools for the program and is one of 78 community colleges now participating, said Dr. Carl Galligan, former HCC dean of students.

Korinth is one of 100 young German professionals chosen after a rigorous selection process. They arrived in the U.S. in August and Korinth was the only one who was placed in Maryland. Her placement here was coordinated by Donna Rudy, dean of student affairs at HCC.

Sanders, her husband, David, and their three children - Karly, 21, Jake, 17, Kendal, 16, two Chihuahuas and two cats - live in Williamsport.

"I'm very happy here," Korinth said. "This is a very nice family."

Korinth indicated on her application that she was afraid of dogs, but has overcome that fear as she's gotten to know the Sanders' dogs.

"I couldn't have asked for a better host daughter," Korby Sanders said. "She's marvelous."

The program includes one semester of study, one semester of work and 20 hours of community service. A three-day orientation seminar was held in New York City for all participants in August, followed by three-day visits to Boston, Mass., and Richmond, Va., before they arrived at the homes of their host families.

The remainder of the time, students are discouraged from traveling so they can focus on their studies and jobs. Time is allotted for three weeks of travel in July, before the program ends with a three-day evaluation seminar in Washington, D.C.

During her first two weeks here, Korinth had to open a bank account, get a Social Security card, purchase a car and enroll in classes at HCC.

Korinth is a full-time student at HCC, taking courses in English, Principles of Management and Introduction to Business. She's also taking Show Choir, a course Korby Sanders teaches.

To fulfill program requirements, Korinth is seeking full-time paid employment as an administrator or in an office for January to June 2005. She has sent resumes to many local businesses without success and has turned to Catherine Bergeman at the Western Maryland Consortium for help in finding a job.

The youngest of two daughters, Korinth completed a degree from a vocational school in Automobile Business Administration in Germany and was working for Mercedes-Benz in their accounting and personnel departments prior to coming to the U.S.

German students are required to take English all seven years of secondary school, Korinth said. She applied for the exchange program as a way to improve her skills in speaking English, which would make her more marketable to international companies in Germany and would allow her to earn a better salary.

Korinth, who played club soccer for seven years in Germany, is fulfilling her community service requirement by helping with the Williamsport High girls' soccer teams this fall, far exceeding the hours required.

She will also make a presentation during National Education Week to the German classes at Williamsport High School.

Korinth keeps in touch with her boyfriend, family and friends through phone calls, e-mail and Web cam, which allows them to see each other live over the Internet. Her boyfriend is coming to visit at Christmas.

While Korinth really misses German bread, she loves the seafood that is readily available here, especially crab legs and shrimp. She plans to celebrate her New Year's Eve birthday with a party at the Sanders home, with seafood on the menu.

For more information on hiring Korinth, call Catherine Bergeman at the Western Maryland Consortium at 301-791-3164.

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