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Brookwood student wins scholarship to Germany

LAWRENCEVILLE - It's not often a high school student gets to study abroad in Europe without paying a dollar - or a euro.

However, Ben Townsend, a rising junior at Brookwood High School, recently received a scholarship sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German to study in Germany for a month this summer.

Though about 23,000 German students nationwide took the 2008 AATG National German Exam, only 39 students in the country were awarded these prestigious study abroad scholarships.

Ben is the only Georgia student to receive the honor.

The scholarship allows him to spend a month with a German family in Nuremberg, experiencing the German language and culture on a day-to-day basis. He will attend a local gymnasium (high school) and will participate in a number of cultural excursions.

"I've never been out of the country before this summer," Ben said. "I guess this is kind of cool."

Ben said that his score of 96 percent on the National German Exam qualified him for the second round, in which he was interviewed by a group of German teachers at the Goethe Institute in Atlanta. Afterward, the finalists were selected through an application process involving essay questions. Ben said he owes much of his success in German to his teacher, Peter von Steinhauer, a native of Nuremberg who teaches in the Brookwood foreign language department.

"He's a great teacher," Ben said. "It's really helped to hear him talk. He's fun and pays a lot of attention to detail."

Ben plans to continue his German studies until at least his third year and maybe further. However, his interest in languages extends beyond German; he expressed a desire to learn Russian at some point.

"I'm definitely going to keep studying language a lot," Ben said.