Sunny Hills High student receives study abroad scholarship

Aidan Wong needed to make a choice – what language to take during high school. Spanish. Korean. Mandarin. German.

“I didn’t want to take Spanish because virtually everyone takes it,” Wong said. “I don’t have any connection to Korean so it didn’t interest me. And I am Cantonese so while the writing taught is the same (traditional script), the pronunciation is very different. I was also really interested in Dutch and Dutch and German are part of the same language family so I thought, why not?”

Fast forward to senior year when Wong was taking International Baccalaureate German Standard Level. His teacher prompted the class to participate in the National German Exam, which took place in January.

Wong scored in the 95th percentile on the exam, giving him the opportunity to move onto the interview round of the exam. Those who scored in the 90th percentile or higher in their levels and submitted an application to the Pädaggischer Austauschdienst Deutschland Plus program, moved onto the interview round. Only levels two, three, and four were eligible for this program.

He was interviewed on March 12 and found out he moved on to another test round on March 14. Wong took the Avant STAMP 4S test that tested writing, speaking, reading, and listening. 

After scoring high on the exam, he found out he received the scholarship on April 11, which allowed him to study in Germany for three weeks. “I was at school in my last period of the day when I found out,” he said. “I texted my parents and my friends immediately.”

Wong left for New York City on June 26 and landed in Germany the next day. His schedule included school and excursions, where groups would travel to different cities throughout the week. He attended the Markgraf-Georg-Friedrich Gymnasium in the city of Kulmbach.

Aidan Wong in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Aidan Wong.

School involved attending classes, both with the other American students as well as his host family. He had the opportunity to shadow his host brother who was in 10th grade, but also take classes with the American group.

“On our second day of school, we also got a tour of the city of Kulmbach and got to meet the mayor of the town, which was cool,” Wong said. “On the weekends, we had time with our host families and one cool experience was getting to see the border between former West and East Germany and there was still a part of the wall that was there.”

He liked how relaxed and discussion-based classes were, and he enjoyed the 45 minute periods instead of the 55 minute ones he was used to at Sunny Hills. Wong’s favorite class was math.

Excursions took place throughout the three weeks he was in Germany and included destinations such as Bayreuth, Bamberg, Nürnberg, and Regensburg, all of which have historical significance.

Wong’s parents are proud of their son for earning the opportunity to go to Germany through this scholarship program.

Alex Wong, Aidan Wong’s father, said. “Having the opportunity to travel to Germany gave Aidan a good chance to explore and learn a bit more about its culture.”

Wong returned on July 16. Moving forward he is going to be attending University of California, Irvine and majoring in both math and language science to become a high school math teacher. 

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