German exchange student to spend year studying abroad at Chantilly


Junior Anna Eckert, right, is pictured with her host family, who she will live with for her 10-month stay.

Sarah Ahmed, staff writer

Zuhause. Leben. Schüler. While these words do not carry meaning for many students, for junior Anna Eckert, they reflect a feeling of home. Born and raised in Germany, Eckert was recently given the opportunity of a lifetime to experience what American schools have to offer.

Amicus, an exchange student program that is part of Young Life, enabled Eckert to come to the United States for a 10-month-stay. “Amicus” is the Latin word for “friend,” suggesting the lasting bonds program participants will forge. According to its website, the program has provided over 1,000 international students, from more than 33 different countries, with the life-changing experience to study in the United States.

“I think the [exchange program] is a great experience because you can learn so much about yourself,” Eckert said. “I was able to learn more English.”

Though Eckert knew she would miss her family back home in Germany, she was excited to travel abroad.

“I was most looking forward to meeting my host family,” Eckert said. “In Germany, I am an only child, and here I have three siblings, and it’s so cool.”

Although she plans to gain many benefits from her time studying at Chantilly, she will not actually gain any credit for this school year and thus, must repeat her junior year when she returns home to Germany.

“It is more like an experiment, so she can live in the U.S. for a year,” science teacher Michele Gates said. “It is just a really cool experience to learn how different the American education system is compared to the German.”

Gates is excited to teach Eckert and learn more about German culture, especially since she taught another German student from the same study abroad program a few years ago. Because of this positive prior experience and since Gates’ own family is from Germany, the two were able to form an immediate connection.

According to Eckert, Germany differs from Chantilly in many ways. For example, in the German education system, students are tracked, meaning they are put in either a work or academic path, and many enter the workforce instead of going straight to college.

“Everything is different between the American and German school systems,” Eckert said. “In Germany, you stay in the same room all day, so you get to know everyone quickly. Here, you need to find out where to go, and there are so many people you need to get to know. Also, in Germany, there aren’t any fun activities at school; you just go there to learn.”

While Eckert will have to go back to Germany after her stay, the trip will impact her for the rest of her life. She hopes to learn much from her stay here, and she is extremely grateful for the opportunities she will encounter. Experiencing another culture will allow her to grow as a person, and Eckert plans to implement what she learns here in her day-to-day life back in Germany.