Richfield Springs Central School (RSCS) sophomore Jonathan Zurmuhlen recently received word that he’s been selected to be a Rotary International exchange student for the 2009-2010 school year and will be heading to Germany this summer to spend a year in that country for his junior year.
“I am really enthused about going overseas to learn a new language, learn about another culture, and make new friends,” said Zurmuhlen.
The son of Kurt and PohKen Zurmuhlen of Richfield Springs, Jonathan has already traveled overseas on family trips and visited Germany, France, Malaysia, and Switzerland. Last year his interest was piqued in the Rotary Exchange program after his parents hosted an exchange student from Russia who attended RSCS. At the end of the summer of 2008 his interest continued and he contacted the guidance department at RSCS and began the paperwork applying to be an exchange student.
Jonathan Zurmuhlen will be off to study in Germany next year as part of the Rotary Club’s exchange program. (Photo by Bruce Watson)
Amidst the application and medical forms Jonathan was required to write a letter to his future host family about himself and his interests. Charles Strange, a local Rotarian who serves as youth exchange officer for the local club met with the Zurmuhlens and Jon’s application was off to be processed.
More than 7,000 students participate in Rotary International’s short and long-term exchanges each year. Jonathan will spend the year living with several host families of Germany and attending school, learning about a new culture and language, and teaching people about the United States and our culture; he’ll be an ambassador to help bring the world closer together and make good friends in the process. Strange, whose own children were Rotary Exchange students, noted that Jonathan would not be the only area youth involved in the Rotary Exchange Program next year.
Brian Sutton, who attends Cherry Valley Springfield (CV-S), will spend a year in Thailand next year and a student will be attending Richfield Springs Central School in the 2009-2010 school year. The Rotary is looking for families to volunteer to host this student.
While at RSCS, Jonathan has been active in junior varsity basketball, varsity soccer with ODY, jazz band, concert band, and the recently formed drum line. He has served on the backstage crew of recent vocal music department musicals including this year’s production of “State Fair”.
Jonathan’s older sister Sara attends Colgate University and recently returned from participating in a research project in Africa. Older brother Daniel attends SUNY Stony Brook and his brother Alain will be heading off in the fall to begin his freshmen year of college and is narrowing his college choice. Jonathan’s career goals are undecided but currently he’s leaning towards either engineering or music.
Prior to leaving for Germany Jonathan is now learning basic German phases and words with the help of his parents who are fluent in German. “We have always encouraged our children to take opportunities such as this and learn about cultures and people of other lands,” offers his mother. “We are so pleased that Jonathan has been given this experience. We are so happy that his awareness of other countries and people will be raised.”
Local Rotary Club president, George Ehrmann is a neighbor of the Zurmuhlens and thinks Jonathan is certainly deserving of this program. “His parents are interested in the community and school and they are an academic family. My wife and I have known them for years and Jonathan is a very nice young man,” said Ehrmann.
Jonathan is still awaiting word on where in Germany he’ll be placed and who his host families will be. With his sister Sara in Australia next year, the matriarch of the Zurmuhlen family is considering travelling to Australia and Germany to see her children next year.
If you would like to help Rotary by hosting the Richfield Springs exchange student in the 2009-2010 school year you can contact Charles Strange at 1-518-788-8628.