Ventrella will stay with a host family during her stint in Deutschland.
“I was so excited to get the news I honestly didn't even know what to say," Edie said. "I was speechless for a little bit … then kept telling the woman … thank you… thank you… thank you so much. It was a dream come true. Travel is something I am super passionate about.”
The CBYX scholarship is made possible by the American Scandinavian Student Exchange (ASSE) International Student Exchange Program.
The U.S. Department of State and the German government have co-sponsored CBYX since 1983, and have enabled more than 24,000 students to expand their global perspectives and make new friends, according to Grants Program Director Mary Loving.
“Congress-Bundestag students are youth ambassadors of the United States, sharing their life and culture with their German hosts and building a greater understanding of the United States and its diversity," Loving said in a July 9 press release. "Edie will learn more than she ever imagined about another country and culture, about the world and its diversity, and herself."
Edie applied for the scholarship last fall.
“I went to their website, filled out a lot of personal information, and then had to answer five questions,” Edie said. “They were pretty situational questions like wanting to know about my flexibility, how I’d like traveling abroad and wanted to make sure I wasn’t trying to run away from home or anything crazy like that.”
After that phase of the application process, Edie was paired with a supervisor in her district who helped her through the next steps.
“Her name was Lucille Kelly. She was really sweet,” Edie said. “She gave me sort of a pseudo interview to help me prepare for the second stage of the application which I had to go to Seattle … meet a bunch of people and then had to do interviews with them.”
The second phase of the process also required Edie to submit her grades and describe her study habits, which would help determine if she was a good fit to study abroad in Germany.
"When you are attending school in Germany, obviously you'll be learning in a completely different language," Edie said. "Luckily for me, I have had three years of German at WHS, so I'm at least at an intermediate level of communication right now."
Edie doesn’t know where she’ll be staying yet or what school she’ll be attending as original plans had her headed to Germany this summer, but because of the current coronavirus, she will not be departing until January of 2021.
This won’t be the first time she will have been a long distance from home having flown to San Diego to visit her sister and making a trip to Germany last August with her German class at WHS.
“It’s still going to be a nervous time being so far away from my family, but I’ll be able to Facetime with them,” Edie said.
“I’m hoping to make a lot of new friends and get to see a community come together … get to be a part of that community and am excited to see how that will play out,” Edie said. “I want to have friends all over the world, have family all over the world and to be able to expand my knowledge of the world and to be able to say I’ve learned something that I never knew before.”
Edie said other students should consider stretching their wings and experience learning abroad as well.
“I definitely recommend trying something new. Even if you don’t want to participate specifically in CBYX, ASSE has so many options …so many countries you can visit,” Edie said. “I think it’s really important for students to experience different cultures and learn about the world.
“I’d recommend it to anyone who has a passion to travel or passion for learning in general. Plus, it would be a good thing to put on a resume.”
As for her postsecondary plans, Edie said she has an inkling of what’s to come.
“I have kind of an idea of what my future will look like,” Edie said. “I’m kind of looking into a teaching career, teaching English as a second language to people around the world. That's super interesting to me because I love experiencing new cultures. I am also interested in social justice or journalism.”
When Edie leaves for Germany in January a group of German scholarship students will be arriving to live with American host families while attending high school in the states. Students and families interested in receiving more information about hosting a CBYX scholarship winner from Germany or other ASSE International partner country programs are asked to call (800) 733-2773 or visit ASSE’s website at asse.com/become a host family.