Cycling through Ratingen

Stay in Ratingen
US guest student Conley Knauff feels very comfortable

MP from the SPD Ratinger Kerstin Griese took over the sponsorship of the 18-year-old student.

(RP) The praise comes right away. “I am very impressed that a student from Chicago can speak German fluently,” says Kerstin Griese when she met Conley Knauff and her host family in Ratingen. The SPD MP took over sponsorship from Knauff, who came to Germany on a grant from the Bundestag and the United States Congress.

The 18-year-old learned some German at school in the United States. Since the summer of last year he has been attending the last year at Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker High School with advanced courses in English and history.

“It’s a completely different perspective,” Knauff says on learning about things in history that don’t happen in American schools. Nina Arnold, who is part of Conley’s host family along with her parents and sister, is in the same class.

“I took it everywhere with me,” he says of the music school. While Nina Arnold plays the oboe in the local orchestra, Conley Knauff also masters three instruments: guitar, horn and piano. He feels visibly at ease in his temporary home. “It’s a stereotype that all Germans are so hostile,” he points out and explains the image Americans have of Germany. Anyway Ratingen likes it: “Everything is very close and compact here.” While some parts of the United States are already big cities, Ratingen can reach everything by bike.

Knauff noted that there were also large differences in the political systems of the two countries. He finds the large number of political parties in Germany surprising. He would therefore like to know from Kerstin Griese why she chose the SPD. “It is a mixture of social justice and a struggle for future opportunities,” replied the deputy without thinking about it for a long time.

Griese thanked Wolfgang and Petra Arnold for hosting the US guest student. “The close relations between Europe and America are now more important than ever,” says Griese, who has been actively involved in the Parliamentary Sponsorship Program (PPP) for 19 years.

Anyone wishing to host a guest student ahead of the PPP can contact the Youth for Understanding exchange organization at

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