by Lettie Stratton
You won’t find Champlain Valley Union (CVU) senior Michael Fournier spending his last year of high school in his usual places like on the football field or in the debate club. Instead, the Shelburne resident is spending the year studying abroad in Germany. “It was definitely easier for me than for my family and football coach to have me leave my senior year!” Fournier said.
For three years, Fournier worked hard at CVU to complete all of his graduation requirements. Only the Grad Challenge remained. “I thought, ‘Why not spend a year abroad like I’ve always wanted to and turn my time in Germany into my Grad Challenge?’” Michael said. “I’ve had a life-long desire to be able to have a real conversation with my German grandmother in her native tongue. My grandmother taught me very basic German, but the best way to get fluent is to be immersed in the language.”
Fournier’s project, titled “Learning German Through Immersion,” will keep him overseas until July. “Becoming part of a culture, not just seeing it from the outside, has always interested me,” he said. Fournier visited Germany in 2010, but only for a week. “This year will hopefully open me up to what it means to be a German, beyond what a tourist could notice in a week,” he added.
In addition to working hard in the classroom, Fournier spent this past summer preparing for his trip with Rosetta Stone German. Now, he attends Gymnasium Ernestinum in Celle, Germany. Founded in 1368, it’s one of the oldest schools in the world. Fournier is living with a host family in Hambühren and takes a 20-minute bus ride to school every day. “Between homework in German, getting to know my family, and recovering from jet-lag, I haven’t had much time yet to explore Celle,” he said, “but from what I can tell, this city of 70,000 has a lot to offer.”
Before leaving, Fournier applied early decision to Middlebury College and is crossing his fingers for an opportunity to follow interests in international studies, languages, and economics there. Surely, the future is bright for this CVU senior. You can follow Fournier’s journey by visiting his blog at www.deutschlandreisefieber.blogspot.com.