Interview with Cari Schmitz
Cari, what kind of influence did the GAPP exchange have on your professional and private life?
"The GAPP exchange made the rest of the world real to me. Growing up in a small town and not traveling outside the US as a child, I had a pretty one-dimensional idea of other cultures and countries. It also made me all the more excited about learning the language. I'd only studied German two years before participating in the program and went on to take German the rest of high school and minor in it during college. The biggest impact the program had on my life though was giving me a taste of Germany.
I'd been yearning to go back since then, and finally am taking part in the CBYX exchange for young professionals this year! As a student of biology and then MS student of plant breeding and molecular genetics, I was having a hard time connecting my desire to continue learning German with my professional goals, but I finally found this in the CBYX program. In the third phase of the program now, I am interning at KWS SAAT AG, a seed company, in Einbeck, Germany. I've never before been so excited about going to work as I have been these last few months at KWS. I sincerely hope, after I finish my PhD at UW-Madison (starting this fall), I will find an opportunity to return to this company."
With which arguments would you encourage young people to participate in a GAPP exchange?
"It's a really short program, as opposed to many year-long exchanges available to high school students, so the risk is relatively low. When I went, I got to see not only Germany, but also a little of Switzerland, Austria, France, and Liechtenstein. The first night, getting in the car with people I couldn't understand, on the other side of the world, was downright terrifying. But after terrifying yourself in a healthy way, you might find yourself a lot more independent and this is an advantage in life, even if you decide never to leave the US again."