Transatlantic Cultural Diplomacy: CBYX Participants Giving Back

Each year, the 75 Americans in Germany taking part in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX-YP) perform at least 40 hours of community service in their placement city. Cultural Vistas, the implementing organization for CBYX-YP, is excited to share some examples of how this year’s participants engage with their host communities and strengthen transatlantic ties as local volunteers.

Dan helping to sell tickets for Jewish Week Dresden

Dan Baxter volunteered with Jewish Week Dresden and made an impact at various concerts and cultural events during the festival, as well as helping out in key pre-event support roles such as ticket presales, event planning, and setting up for concerts. Volunteering was a fantastic way to practice his German, sing and dance, participate in cultural exchange, and support Ukrainian refugee musicians and artists who performed at the festival!

Abby Hawkins participated in Meet US events sponsored by the US Consulate in Leipzig, giving her the opportunity to promote US-German cultural exchange to German youth. She particularly enjoyed the open, honest conversations with a German 9th-grade class about attending secondary school and higher education in the USA. She also volunteered as chair of local Model United Nations conferences and judging speech and debate tournaments similar to the ones she competed in throughout high school.

Abby Hawkins (front row, far left) with US Consul General Ken Toko (front row, third from left) and German 9th graders from Saxony-Anhalt after a MeetUS event on daily life in the USA and differences between secondary school in the USA and Germany

Jahleel Johnson has volunteered at the Baptisten Schöneberg Winterspielplatz (Schöneberg Baptist Church) he attends in Berlin. Winterspielplatz is a daycare center for children 0-5 years old, one of the many ways the church gives back to the community. At the center, he has done front desk duty collecting a small admission fee from the parents to allow their children to come, as well as keeping attendance and answering questions from parents who are not church members. He is also responsible for cleanup and returning the rooms used to their original condition afterward.

Jahleel Johnson welcoming children and their parents to the Schöneberg Baptist day care center

Josue Luna, placed in Braunschweig, was inspired by his love for photography to create a website and publish photos that highlight his experiences in Germany across different cities including Radolfzell, Hamburg, Braunschweig, Berlin, and Goslar. His photos show the landscape, outdoors, and overall city life of where he has traveled this year, introducing Americans (and some Germans) to his impressions of German life while participating in CBYX.

Taken during Josue’s visit to the Christmas market in Goslar, Germany with other students from the Erasmus Student Network. While exploring the town, he also captured this shot of the snow covering the beautiful streets of Goslar.

CBYX for Young Professionals is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Department of State that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals between the ages of 18½–24 the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program. Separate CBYX programs not administered by Cultural Vistas include similar programming for high school and vocational students.