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Chattanooga Student Meets Hometown Mayor...In Germany!

It's not unusual for a former STEP-UP Chattanooga student to be interning at City Hall and see Mayor Tim Kelly walking down the hall. It was surprising, however, for Vinny Nguyen (Lookout Valley High, Class of 2022) to meet Mayor Kelly and his wife, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce President Charles Wood, and other city officials during their visit to Wolfsburg City Hall in Germany! Vinny, who took a gap year after high school, is in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange/Parlamentarisches Patenschafts-Programm in Wolfsburg, Germany. The full scholarship program focuses on the cultural exchanges Americans and Germans can give each other, as well as the important social and political relations that we have with each other. Hence, each program participant also receives a respective German parliament member with whom they regularly coordinate. “The program places me with a German host family and in a German school, which I stay with for 10 months (essentially a whole exchange year),” said Nguyen. “Each program participant is fully immersed in the German lifestyle. This includes everything from learning the language and befriending German teenagers to meeting with parliament members and adjusting to the important "Müll sortieren" culture that Germans have (they are very environmentally-conscious people who take recycling, composting, and trash sorting very seriously).”

Wolfsburg is home to Volkswagen's world headquarters and a sister city of Chattanooga. “I've never met them before in Chattanooga so it's just really funny that I'm meeting

them at the right place and time in Germany,” Vinny added. “[We're] all the way across the world and sit in on discussions between our cities' officials about plans for the future!” Nguyen added that the Chattanooga delegation also received a tour of the massive Volkswagen factory as well as Wolfsburg’s football stadium. When asked if he took any photos with Mayor Kelly, Vinny responded “Unfortunately I didn’t… didn’t even think about it to be honest because I was just so caught up in the moment!” Included are photos of Vinny Nguyen at various sites during his exchange program.


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