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MN bids guten tag to junior

+Boehner+represents+his+home+country+with+a+German+flag+while+he+attends+a+Vikings+football+game+at+US+Bank+Stadium.
 Boehner represents his home country with a German flag while he attends a Vikings football game at US Bank Stadium.

Boehner represents his home country with a German flag while he attends a Vikings football game at US Bank Stadium.

Zac Hoang

Zac Hoang

Boehner represents his home country with a German flag while he attends a Vikings football game at US Bank Stadium.

Mary Ortega, Staff Writer

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Art. Weich gesprochen. Fürsorglich. All three words accurately describe the CHHS foreign exchange student this year.

For those who don’t know German, they translate into kind, soft spoken and caring, all traits Pascal Boehner possesses. Already known by many Hylanders as Passi, this 15-year-old decided to leave his home in Lichtenau, Germany to experience life in America.

Growing up in a small town had its benefits, but the village lacked an abundance of activity. Boehner knew the United States would offer more cultural and social opportunities. While he knew about America, the reality of being in Minnesota was somewhat of a culture shock.

“I was nervous about coming but excited at the same time. It was tricky adjusting at first. My sleep schedule was messed up for a couple of weeks,” he said.

The journey began when he stepped off the plane at Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport on August 12, 2017.

“It hadn’t hit me that I would be away from my family for a whole year,” he said.

He left his mom Kerstin, his dad Hartmut his sister Karolena (14) and his brother Kelean (17) back home. Coming from a stable family and having a solid core of German friends built a sense of confidence in Boehner.

“My family and friends are supportive and inspire me to try new things and take risks, like coming to America,” Boehner said.

This is the longest and farthest he’s ever been away from his friends and family. He tries to talk to his family weekly, but their schedules are busy. It’s easier for him to connect daily with friends. Boehner just finished his freshman year of high school at Gymnasium St. Kasper making him a younger exchange student.

“My cousin went to Canada with an exchange program, and he loved it. I knew from that moment, I would be interested in doing it as well,” he said.

Boehner started the application process late in August of 2016 with Rotary International. The program supports youth who strive to become well rounded. It is open to anyone, regardless of race, color, religion, gender or political preference.

“As part of the application, I had to write a paper on why I wanted to be a part of the exchange program. I wrote about how I wanted to explore the culture and live the American life, even if it was only for a year,” he said. “It was my first choice of locations followed by Brazil and Turkey.”

In America, soccer became his anchor and allowed him to bring a piece of home with him.

“I started playing when I was four years old. In my country, it’s a very big sport; we take it very seriously,” he said.

Boehner decided he would try out for the CHHS soccer team. It came as no surprise that he made the varsity team.

“Everyone has been very welcoming, and I have a built in group of friends,” he said.

In Germany, Pascal plays midfield, but as a Hylander, he plays defense.

“Pascal is very good at what he does. Transitioning to a defender position hasn’t been difficult for him. He has made a lot of progress during the season,” Alex Giles (12) said.

His living situation in America is unusual. Throughout the year, he will be living with three different families to gain exposure and experience different things.

“My first and second host families have been very kind and welcoming. It’s like we are a real family,” he said.

As to be expected, there were obstacles Boehner had to overcome in his adopted country.

“My biggest challenge so far has been trying to communicate with people. Sometimes they speak so fast; it’s hard for me to keep up,” he said.

Meeting new friends has made the journey easier.

“Pascal is really funny and kind. We had a great time at the Minnesota State fair,” Jack Bialke (11) said.

“I heard about the fair and knew it was something I wanted to experience. In Germany, we don’t have anything like that,” he said.

Boehner hopes to keep in contact with his friends after he returns to Germany.

With 11 weeks down and 35 to go, Boehner has picked up on American life and hopes to experience even more before heading back home.

“I know I made the right choice coming to the US. When I leave, I am really going to miss everyone I met. Even though I will only be here for a year, I plan on making the most of it,” he said.

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