Learn about the experiences of Michigan’s 2022 IFYE exchange delegates: Part 1

Young adults from Michigan participated in an in-depth, rural based, cultural immersion-focused experience with host families outside the United States.

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IFYE delegate Carly Claucherty in Birkweiler, Germany pictured in a wine laboratory testing the acidity of wine and juice samples from local winemakers.

In the Michigan State University Extension news article, “Do you want to visit another country? Consider the IFYE Exchange,” the IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. is explained. The article closes by stating: “Watch for future MSU Extension news articles on the experience’s that they had and new knowledge to be shared.” The Michigan IFYE “Peace through Understanding” international exchange program for young adults had three delegates travel abroad in 2022. As promised in the initial IFYE article, this news article series will include participant stories as they reflect upon their international cultural experience. This is the first article in the series.

Part 1

Michigan IFYE delegate and Michigan State University graduate Carly Claucherty shared her story traveling to Germany:

"While in Germany, I had the opportunity to try so many new things. My IFYE journey began in a small, German wine village where I stayed with a family that owned a laboratory, which provides the local winemakers with testing so they can produce the most high-quality wines. As part of the German wine route, Birkweiler is quite a tourist destination despite boasting a population of just 700 residents.

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IFYE delegate Carly Claucherty in Birkweiler, Germany pictured in a wine laboratory testing the acidity of wine and juice samples from local winemakers.

"While there, I was able to learn about winemaking, hand-harvest Riesling grapes with a local winemaker’s crew, and then test it in the lab. It was quite the challenge to learn how to use the machines and computer program for the testing when everything was in German! But through patient communication with my host family, I quickly became a part of the team.

"Next, I stayed with a family who had planned tours of a water treatment plant as well as a biogas facility. It was awesome to see the focus on clean energy too, as both facilities had solar panels which produced most of their energy needs! I also hand-harvested apples and pressed them the same day to make apple cider fresh from their garden and explored Frankfurt nearby.

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IFYE delegate to Germany, Carly Claucherty, had the chance to hand-harvest apples and make fresh apple cider with her host family near Frankfurt. It is common for families to have their garden in a separate location from their house, often accessible by walking or biking!

"My third host family raised corn and wheat and finished about 8,000-10,000 hogs each year. While there, I got to ride around in the buddy seat of the tractor (a John Deere!) talking with the farmer about his management decisions, and the challenges he faces on his farm. I think similar to here in Michigan, he was worried about governmental regulations when it comes to environmentally conscious policies, and eventually how to pass on the farm to the next generation. The original house on the property is still lived in by the grandparents of the family, and it was built in 1813!

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IFYE delegate to Germany, Carly Claucherty, helping with newborn piglet care while visiting a sow breeder in Lower Saxony.

"Finally, my last stop was a 100 head dairy farm up on a hill in Weilmünster. I got to experience milking cows at 6:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., each day during my three-week stay. It was hard work! But it was so rewarding when we could bring in fresh milk from the tank, heat it up on the stove, and have it in our coffee or cocoa with our German bread for breakfast! There were also three generations on the farm, with the youngest being a one-year-old who absolutely loves having the calves suck on her hands.

"Some of the fun memories I will always cherish are hiking to castles, going to watch one of my host sibling’s soccer games each weekend, celebrating Halloween at Burg Frankenstein and visiting the many Christmas markets!

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IFYE delegate to Germany, Carly Claucherty, pictured on a weekend visit to Madenburg Castle with her host family, as well as Illinois IFYE, Phillip Wessel (far right), who was also staying in the same village.

"Overall, I gained such an appreciation for the different ways that people live their lives. I think it’s so important to step outside of your own bubble and see the world from a different perspective. It really reminds you that things don’t need to be done a certain way, just because “that’s the way we do it” and that different doesn’t mean wrong. I would recommend this opportunity to someone wanting to experience another part of the world, gain a different perspective on agriculture, and is up for the challenge of adapting to another culture for a few months!”

Michigan was excited to have three 2022 USA, Inc. IFYE Outbound Program delegates!  Look for Part 2 in this series featuring another Michigan IFYE shared story. We look forward to Michigan delegates participating in this wonderful opportunity in 2023.

To learn more about the IFYE organization, visit their website and view the featured videos. Check out how you could host an IFYE or represent Michigan as an IFYE delegate!

To learn more about the IFYE program in Michigan, visit the International Exchange Program page on the Michigan 4-H website.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas.

For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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