East Idaho teen gets selected for ambassadorship program overseas
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IDAHO FALLS — Leaving his family, high school, and all sense of familiarity for 10 months to immerse himself in German culture is a dream come true for Tate Jenkins.
Jenkins was recently accepted into the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX). He will be one of 250 student ambassadors representing the United States in Germany through this U.S. State Department-funded study abroad program.
“The reason why I wanted to do the CBYX scholarship was to really get out and see the world for what it really is. I think that’s kind of important to be a part of,” Jenkins says. “We need to know what’s going on in our world.”
Jenkins says the application process is tough as students have to fulfill certain academic standards and have certain recommendations from the community. Only one to two Idaho applicants are selected per year. He says knowing how to speak German, however, was not a requirement.
“You do not need to know the German language to be able to apply and accept it. I know a lot of kids who have gotten into this program who know absolutely no German,” Jenkins says. “Putting in a language barrier eliminates a lot of people who have a lot of potential.”
Jenkins says during the final selection process, eight students are interviewed for the position. Jenkins says he was head-to-head with another Idaho student until last month when he received confirmation that he was accepted.
“I’m excited, I’m scared. There’s just a lot of emotions that come with it. Being by yourself in a different country for basically a whole academic school year can be very nerve-wracking, but also very rewarding at the end,” Jenkins says.
After getting to Germany all of the students will enroll in a language camp.
“Depending on what level of (speaking) German you are (at) determines what classes you’ll be in,” Jenkins says.
That’s for the first month. For the rest of the 10 months, students will assimilate with their German host family and new academic surroundings.
“You basically dive into your German community,” Jenkins says.
Jenkins some kids will be staying in bigger cities like Berlin, but he’s looking forward to staying in a rural town on the border of Denmark and Germany.
“So I’m in a small village and them my school is actually in a small town about the size of Idaho Falls,” Jenkins says. I’m very far North,” Jenkins says.
The Skyline high school student says he’s leaving his track career behind, but he might have opportunities to compete while abroad.
“For my senior year, it was looking very promising for my running career. I was going to be one of the top hurdlers for the state of Idaho. I guess that’s one thing that I’m putting aside,” Jenkins says.
Upon his return back to the United States all 250 students will land in Washington D.C essentially graduating from the program. They’ll have the chance to rub shoulders with government officials as well.
“After my study abroad program I really want to go into business and entrepreneurship. I’m looking at colleges in Utah and Idaho. Things that are closer than further out to start my business career,” Jenkins says.
Tate leaves for Germany Tuesday.
“My parents have always been supportive of my decision and they also do believe that this program will benefit me for the good,” Jenkins says.