Honors Program highlights student exchange with Germany

University of Nevada, Reno welcomes Christopher Zintl as part of a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals

10/30/2013 - By: Nicole Shearer
Pictured with Daniel Villanueva (left) and Nathan Robison (right), Christopher Zintl (center) is the University’s first-ever Honors Program exchange student from Germany.

The Honors Program at the University of Nevada, Reno is hosting its first-ever exchange student from Germany as part of the University's continued effort to internationalize the student body population. The exchange program, Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag (parliament) and U.S. Congress that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals the opportunity to spend time in each other's countries; studying, interning and living with host families on a cultural immersion program.

This year, 22-year-old Christopher Zintl from Lorsch, Germany was one of 75 German students selected for this fellowship. Zintl specializes in mortgage and real estate financing. In Germany, he completed an apprenticeship for two-and-a-half years and then worked in a bank after his apprenticeship was complete. He was responsible for six branches and 3,400 customers working with them on credit, investment and insurance.

The process to be selected as a CBYX student is highly competitive. On average, 800 German students apply for the 75 positions. Once Zintl found out he was going to attend the University of Nevada, Reno, he said he did what most people would do. He googled it. Zintl has been on campus as a part-time student taking marketing and English classes since the semester started in late August. He is pleasantly surprised with Reno and has greatly enjoyed the community so far.

"This has been quite an incredible experience for me," Zintl said. "People here are remarkable and very willing to help. Daniel and the Honors Program office are very involved with making sure I am participating in the University and really helped transition me into life here. I also very much enjoy living with my host family. They are incredible."

German participants of the CBYX program study at colleges throughout the United States for one semester each fall. CBYX participants are between 18-24 years old, and have been personally selected by a German Member of Parliament. All participants speak English, have already completed a professional apprenticeship in their career field in Germany, and are felt to be able to serve as a terrific ambassador for promoting opportunities to study and work abroad for American students.

Daniel Villanueva, assistant director of the Honors Program and professor of German at the University, facilitated exchange for twelve years at his previous university and was pleased to find the Honors Program very willing to support it when he was hired here. His motivation for participating in the program is to bring more people with different cultural backgrounds to campus.

"The CBYX program is a wonderful opportunity for us to expose German students to a quality, Tier 1 University," Villanueva said. "Students get a complete educational experience that entails more than just classes. Between their studies, internship and volunteer hours, these exchange students really get a sense for American college life."

In addition to his studies at the University, Zintl has landed an internship at Reno-based Robison Engineering Company.

"As I was trying to find an internship, one of my friends at the University invited me to attend a networking session with a variety of local companies," Zintl said. "At my table was Nathan Robison, and after talking to him and explaining my need for an internship, he hired me. On my first day, I thought I was going in for a job interview and after a few brief introductions, they put me to work. The working atmosphere has been great and my boss surprises me every time when he gives me instructions in German."

Before arriving to Reno, Zintl spent three days in New York City, N.Y., and stayed with a host family in Los Angeles, Calif. for four days. Also as part of the program, Zintl has received an appointment to work in Congress at the end of the semester. He was one of five, of the 75 German CBYX students, chosen to participate in this rare opportunity.

"Chris is proving to be an excellent ambassador for Germany with our Honors students and in the community," Villanueva said. "He is a wonderful first CBYX participant at the University and we look forward to many future years of this successful partnership with the U.S. Congress and German Parliament."


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