Have you ever visited North Dakota?

Gabriele Hiller-Ohm, Member of the Bundestag

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the first German immigration to America, a joint youth exchange program of the German Bundestag and the US Congress was launched in 1983. Young people from Germany and the USA receive a scholarship for an exchange year in the other country. The scholarship holders are “young ambassadors” for the political and cultural values ​​of their country for one year.

It is very important to me to emphasize that when awarding the scholarship, it does not depend on grades, knowledge of English or the wallet of the parents. Much more important is a healthy curiosity about an exciting year in the USA.

Pupils aged 15 to 17 and young professionals up to 24 years of age can take part in the Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP). The students attend a high school in the USA, the working people a community college or similar institution and then complete an internship in an American company. The scholarship holders usually live with host families.

The application phase for the 36th PPP 2019/2020 has been running since May 2018. I would be very happy if many young people from Lübeck and the authorities apply again. All information about the program can be found here.

Because young people from Lübeck and the offices of Berkenthin and Sandesneben have often been able to participate in the PPP and I was allowed to assist them as a godmother. In the 2016/2017 school year, I was last sponsor of the scholarship holder Christoph Evers from Lübeck.

Here you can read directly about his experiences. Have lots of fun with it!

June Report 2017 Yellowstone and "Goodbye"

Travemünde June 2017

My last two weeks in the US were packed.

Right at the beginning of June it was my host mother's birthday, which we celebrated extensively with friends and family.

Just one day later, my gastoma and I went to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The way to Yellowstone led us through part of the Rocky Mountain range. There we drove to a height of up to 2,800 m above sea level - that's enormous for a Hanseatic like me. After almost two days of driving, we were ‘‘ “at Yellowstone.

Together with my gastoma, I spent almost three days in Yellowstone National Park. The park is very natural and offers wonderful landscapes. Most of the park is in an active volcanic landscape. It is therefore not entirely safe to visit the park.

On a total area of ​​almost 9,000 km², nature offers not only volcanoes but also mountains, meadows and waterfalls - a real paradise for nature lovers.

After almost five days we were (unfortunately) already back home. Together we covered about 2,205 km. For me, this trip was a great way to end my year abroad in the USA. But then I spent my last days in Hettinger with my host family and friends. In addition to shared experiences, I also said goodbye to many personally and plan to visit my host family and friends again in the next two years.

My last trip in the USA took me back to the capital, Washington D.C. My exchange organization, with which the German Bundestag organized this exchange, gathered all exchange students there. We had conversations together in the Department of State (the American State Department) and representatives of the program. There I also have my certificate for my voluntary hours, from the German Embassy and the Department of State get presented.

For me personally it was a very educational and exciting time in the USA. I am very grateful that I got this chance and would like to come back to Gabriele Hiller-Ohm thank you, without whom I would not have gotten this chance.


May report 2017 "Music, Black Hills and Trump"

Hettinger May 30 2017

My last (whole) month here in the USA was packed.

Right at the beginning of the month I went to Minot with my music class to the “State Music” festival. Minot is near the Canadian border.

We were able to assert ourselves through over fifty classes and together we took 2nd place as the best music class in North Dakota.

Towards the middle of the month, a two-day excursion was planned by my exchange organization here on site. Together with four other exchange students from Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia, I went to the Black Hills in South Dakota.


We spent our first day in Deadwood. There we had the opportunity to give a presentation about our home country in the local high school. Then it went on to a museum tour across Deadwood. In this we inquired about the gold rush and the development of the city in the 1870s. We also have a lot about the "Buffalo Hunt”Learned in the US. It is unbelievable that more than 14 million animals perished and only 140 animals survived.

We used the second day to look at the landscape in the Black Hills. We then ended the day with a small picnic on Mount Rushmore.

It is said that Americans don't like talking about politics. So it surprised me all the more when I was approached by some teachers and classmates at school about Trump's first trip abroad. I saw a rethinking of Trump's politics in some of my classmates. North Dakota is very republican. Accordingly, the Republicans are very valued here. But some of my classmates gave me their very own view of current politics. I was able to hear very well how disappointed you are in your president and still want to continue to support Republican politics.

I now have just under two weeks left here in the USA.

I will enjoy this together with my host family and my friends. In addition, I will be one of these weeks together with my gastoma "Yellowstone National Park" drive.

April 2017 Report "Washington, D.C."

Hettinger May 4, 2017

Except for the last week, my April here in the USA wasn't as exciting as I would have thought. Or I've just got used to having so many adventures ...

I stayed at home with my host family over Easter and we did housework together. We brought the garden back out of hibernation, cleaned up the garage and my host brother and I finished the fence around the house. I also used the month to work on more “Community Hours”.

The last week of April was for it, but all the more exciting. I went to Washington D.C. one more time with the senior class of my school. flown. Our week was packed. Packed with political workshops, talks and debates. I especially welcomed the fact that we, along with around 300 other students from 17 states in D.C. were. From the liberal Minnesota to the very conservative Alaska everything was represented. This of course made political debates very interesting because we had so many different political perspectives.


In addition to the classic monuments such as the Lincoln, the Jefferson and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, we also visited the Capitol, White House, Library of Congress, Supreme Court and the monuments of World War II and the wars in Vietnam and Korea.

A personal highlight this time was that we had the opportunity to talk to our two senators and our congressman. Our Congressman Kevin Cramer is Republican and has of course talked a lot about what should be changed / improved in the next few years under President Trump. Of course, he supports Trump's climate policy. He also advocates an exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, as this would stand in the way of the development of the USA. Furthermore, he also fights for Obama's health system, also called Obamacare, which is similar to our system, to be reformed significantly.

We had another very detailed conversation with our Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, ​​who I found very likeable. She explained to us why Obamacare is so important and must be maintained. She also made us aware of the dangers of climate change and thus opposed Trump's climate policy. She also drew our attention to Trump's military policy. North Korea and Russia are said to be closely watched and rejected. She also shared her concerns about Europe through Russia and Putin. She thinks Putin is a very dangerous man. At the end of our conversation, Senator Heitkamp drew our attention to the fact that we are the future of this world and that we should stand up for our values ​​and convictions and fight (peacefully).

March report 2017 "From Australia to prom to golf"

Hettinger April 6, 2017

At the end of each month, I always do a little personal review of my experiences. It only occurred to me now that March was pretty “busy” for me.

Right at the beginning of the month, we had a visit from an Australian couple at school. For years the two have been traveling across the northern states and attending high schools to introduce students to Australian culture. I was most enthusiastic about the “welcome dance” of the indigenous people of Australia, the Aborigines. Of course I had to try it out. By the way, in Australia they say “G’day” to say “Hello”.

I also started doing my “Community Hours” this month. It should also be mentioned that every PPP scholar should work at least 50 voluntary social hours. I welcome that as you come into contact with residents from all over the city.

I have chosen very different jobs for my social hours. Among other things, I raked Laub in our city library and reorganized the music library in our school.

In addition to all of the work, I was out with my band and choir class in March. At the beginning of the month I was on the road with my band in our state capital, Bismarck. There we not only qualified for the “State Band Championship”, but we also became “Regional Champions”. Less than two weeks later we were in with the choir Assumption Abbey in Richardton, North Dakota. There I was allowed to sing “Dreams of Thee” with my group. Together my school unexpectedly took first place and we also qualified for the State Chior Championship.

At the end of the month we had a prom. Prom can be compared to a high school graduation ball. Prom has a very high priority in the USA. For many students, it is one of the most important events of the school year.

Finally, I would like to mention that I am now an active golfer. After the wrestling season was over with us, I signed up for golf. Golf is a mass sport here in the USA like athletics in our country.

February Report 2017 “Trump and Wrestling”

Hettinger; February 26, 2017

It's been a month since Donald J. Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. Since then, hardly a day has passed without the new president producing new headlines.

But what actually comes across Trump's new laws here in North Dakota? My personal feeling: what is very important here is environmental protection. There has been an oil pipeline project for years, which was stopped under the administration of Barack Obama. However, Trump intends to revive this project. Part of this oil pipeline is to be built five kilometers from Hettinger, among other things. There is a big protest at the pipeline because, among other things, private land is to be expropriated and the pipeline is to be built under important drinking water sources.

Another point is health insurance. Trump has already put some of the benefits of Obama's introduced health insurance system on hold. For many this means, despite having health insurance that devours a large part of their income every month, more co-payments for medical needs.

The “Muslim Ban” is also a very big point which has attracted a lot of outrage around the world. In addition to denying entry to people from predominantly Muslim countries, the President's law even provided for the revocation of valid residence permits. I personally have some Muslim friends who, like me, are doing a year abroad here in the USA and were afraid of being deported. Fortunately, a court has annulled the "Muslim Ban" because it violated the law.

How do voters feel here in North Dakota? North Dakota is a very republican state. Around 63 percent Republican was elected here last November. A good month after Trump took office, the majority of North Dakota's population is happy with their new president.

In addition to new laws from the White House and Congress, there are also new ones from our State Parliament (German for “Landtag”) of North Dakota. Among other things, the gun laws have been loosened a little here, which makes the acquisition of high-speed guns much easier. Incidentally, here in North Dakota it is quite normal to be able to buy fully functional weapons in supermarkets. In addition, these weapons do not even have to be registered.

What is very sad about all these gun laws is that theoretically guns have more rights here in North Dakota than gays, lesbians or bisexuals. In addition, discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is completely legal in North Dakota. And the public supports it. As a result, many of the LGBT (short for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender”) community are moving to more liberal states like Illinois.

In addition to laws that would cause huge outrage in Europe, a law was passed here in North Dakota, which I personally welcome. A new law states that expropriated property should be returned to the rightful owner immediately with compensation for damages after the completion of state projects.

Personally, I am concerned about the future. If a president is causing so much trouble and headlines in one month, what will we have in store for the next few months and years?


But after the political events, normal life also goes on. That month I had the North Dakota State Champion tournament with my wrestling team. It was in Fargo. Fargo is the largest city in this state and is about 6 hours drive from Hettinger. Four long months of hard work every day has paid off: Together with my team, I took first place. We are state champions in wrestling. This was a breathtaking experience not only for me, but for the whole team.


Half time in America


Hettinger, Jan-22-2016

Dear Gabi,

dear team GHO,

I've been in the US for 5 months now. I would like to use this to share a few thoughts.

When I came to the USA in mid-August, the first thing I was completely slain was. Everything looked different, everything was bigger, the buildings, the cars, everything was somehow different.

In addition, at times I didn't know what to do with my feelings. When I got on the plane to the USA in Hamburg, I knew that there would only be a return in 10 months. Until then, I will live with completely strangers and have a completely new environment overnight. I also quickly noticed that the English spoken here is a little different from what I learned in school.

All these feelings and thoughts that worried me and also caused me stomach ache at the beginning do not cause me any problems today. I owe this to my super host family, who go out of their way to make it possible for me to have an exciting and exciting year.

In addition, my host family tries to show me as much as possible. Besides “Mount Rushmore” and “Theodore Roosevelt National Park” I have already visited “Deadwood” and “Bear Country USA” in the Back Hills.

Furthermore, the Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP) is also trying to show me something of America. So in mid-November I went to Washington D.C. together with 90 other PPPs from all over the USA. flown. There we visited the White House and the Lincoln Memorial and had discussions with Senators and Congressmen. Together with three other PPPs from my state, I found out about local problems and President Trump's plans for the future. We also explained again why the relationship between the USA and Germany is important not only for us but for the whole world.

Another big point is the sport. Sport is extremely important in the USA. There is a very broad sports program here, which adapts to the weather conditions depending on the season.In addition to American football and baseball, there is also volleyball, basketball, golf, swimming, wrestling and track. I enrolled on the football team at the start of the school year. I enjoyed football a lot because it's a team sport. I was a little disappointed with the Season was only very brief. That's why I've been on the wrestling team at my school since the end of October. This was something completely new to me at first as wrestling is not an easy sport and it is often associated with beatings and painful fights. However, it is very different.

The last point I want to share is the weather here. Because of the geographic location of North Dakota, we have a continental climate here. In short: hot summer, cold winter. When I came here at the beginning of August, we had temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius in the shade. In between there were even field fires due to the drought. We haven't had a snow-free day since November. We also had the first one Blizzard. The temperatures are as low as -35 degrees Celsius. This was particularly hard for me at the beginning, as I've never felt such a cold before. And I can only say that when the wind blows it hurts a lot in the face.

However, you have to see it positively. Due to the heavy snow, we have already had a few school failures.

Greetings from North Dakota


First experience report

Hettinger, Nov-6-2016

Dear Gabi,

dear team Gabi!

Even if a little late, I am sending belated greetings from the middle of the USA today. As you probably know, my new and second home is in Hettinger, North Dakota. About 1200 people currently live here.

Politically, my region is very republican, i.e. a lot of Trump voters. This is not least due to the fact that many love their guns and their money. We have many wealthy people here, most of whom earn their living from agriculture. However, with my family I really got lucky. As a rule, they are politically on the side of the Democrats. You are very excited about Obama. However, they are not that convinced of Clinton. Now there are still two days until the election. It has looked pretty good for Clinton so far, but with the “October surprise” it doesn't look so clear anymore. It remains very exciting.

But now to me. In the following, I would like to tell you about my experiences and “up and downs” here from the USA.

My first day actually started with a breakdown. After I landed in Frankfurt, waited 1.5 hours and then finally wanted to check in on my plane to Chicago, I discovered that my boarding pass was invalid. Fortunately, the Lufthansa employees helped me straight away. The reason was that I got a free upgrade to business class. Not bad in itself, but all the other exchange students I flew with were in the back of the plane and I was in the front ...

After almost 9 hours of flight, I finally arrived in Chicago. To my amazement, I found that I wasn't tired at all. The other exchange students and I scurried through the security check relatively quickly, checked our suitcases for the connecting flight and were then taken to our terminals. Then I had to wait another 8 hours for my connecting flight. Almost an hour before my onward flight was due to take off, the gate has changed. So I made my way very comfortably to find my new gate. After 45 minutes I finally found it with the help of an airport employee (no one could have guessed that my terminal was so big and that the gate was at the other end).

Arrived at the gate: -My flight was 45 minutes late. I tried desperately to reach my host family, which somehow worked afterwards.

After a 4 hour flight, I finally arrived in Raipid City in South Dakota after around 28 hours. There I was welcomed by my host mother Carol, host sister Reanne and Anastasia (from Ukraine, also an exchange student). I was completely exhausted and very tired. However, we drove straight into the city from the airport and got me the most necessary things (note: it was the middle of the night. However, many shops in larger cities are open around the clock). From there we had to drive another 2.5 hours to Hettinger. I was so overjoyed when I finally arrived at my new home. Even though I was very tired, I unpacked my suitcase that night and put my things in the closet. Unfortunately, when I opened it, I found that it had been completely searched. Unfortunately, a few guest favors also broke up and my favorite sweater has disappeared.

This was my first day in the USA.

My first day of school was of course very exciting for me and my Ukrainian host sister. Everything was new and we didn't know what to expect. However, everyone was very nice and helpful. My first two weeks, of course, weren't that fun. At first I had some communication problems. -Everyone spoke very quickly here. However, this happened very quickly after two weeks. Today I am able to communicate normally with everyone here. I'm really amazed at how quickly my English has improved. Clearly, I still make some grammatical mistakes, but this will surely resolve itself quickly too.

In general about the school here it can be said that the school material is much simpler than ours. I've had it all in school before. What I like the most here is the “US History” class. My history teacher is enthusiastic about Germany. He has also already visited Germany twice. Right now we have the theme of World War I. And of course I know the German past very well. My classmates keep looking at me in class, which of course I always use as an opportunity to explain our past in more detail and to show how Germany has changed over the past 70 years.

Furthermore, the sport is very important here. I played American football for the first 10 weeks. The coaches were very impressed with how much willpower I can show. However, my career as a football player was over when I played my first game! My elbow was injured and I was in severe pain on the sidelines for the rest of the game. Back at home, my host mother took a closer look at my arm and immediately provided me with painkillers. Fortunately, my host mother is a pharmacist and knows what to do with almost every injury. After taking a closer look, she said that we would not go to the clinic until the next morning, as my treatment would then be cheaper. I agreed because my pain was not as severe after taking the painkillers. However, my arm turned blue and freezing cold within an hour. Whereupon my host mother drove to Katty directly with me. After the examinations it was clear that luckily he was only sprained. Now I'm really looking forward to the doctor's bill, which will come in mid-December (shortly before Christmas of course). : /

Now the wrestling session starts tomorrow. Most of them are totally enthusiastic about it and have persuaded me to give it a try. I'm very excited about that.

In addition, my host family tries very hard to show me as much as possible! My first big trip was to the Black Hills. There we visited the historic city of Deadwood, among other things. The history of the city is very interesting, of course you can read it on the internet (you should do it);). We also visited Bear Country. This is structured in a similar way to the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen. I wasn't that enthusiastic about it as I'm generally not a fan of zoos. Of course we also visited Mount Rushmore. It was very impressive. I had imagined the presidential heads to be much smaller.

The week before last, I went to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park with my gastoma. This one was breathtaking. Now my gastoma is planning a week trip to the Grand Canyons and the four-state corner.

Next week I'm going to Washington D.C. for a week with 24 other PPPs from the PPP. to travel. There we will have some workshops as well as talks with MPs in the Capitol. Furthermore we will look at some sights there. -I'm very excited to see how the mood will be in D.C. next week. after the election will be.

This month I want to publish my first article on food / nutrition on my blog. I think you, Gabi, can be curious about it. But first of all, I can say that a vegan life is very difficult and very expensive here.

I hope I was able to give you a good insight. I would also be very happy if you would continue to follow my blog. www.christoph-ppp.blogspot.de

Greetings from North Dakota,


Unfortunately, due to my computer, which is no longer too sporty, I couldn't insert photos Fotos

PS: Dear Gabi, I would like to personally congratulate you again on your position as SPD candidate for constituency 11. I'm really happy about it and keep my fingers crossed for the direct mandate.