June 11, 2018

VSU Exchange Student Nicole Peckhaus Receives International Recognition

Nicole Peckhaus

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University exchange student Nicole Peckhaus is the June 2018 Participant of the Month for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program, which allows German and American students to live, study, and intern abroad for a year on full scholarships. The award was presented by the United States Department of State.

Peckhaus, a native of Leverkusen, Germany, began studying at VSU in August 2017 through the CBYX for Young Professionals program, taking courses in mass media, public relations, and sociology. She plans to pursue a degree in business administration after returning to Germany at the end of the summer. 

Peckhaus is also active throughout the community. She has worked at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce since January as the South Georgia Military Affairs Council assistant. In that role she helped to organize South Georgia Loves Moody Week, which helped earn South Georgia recognition from the Association of Defense Communities as one of five 2018 Great American Defense Communities nationwide. She is also coordinating meetings and travel plans for the 2018 Defense Communities National Summit in Washington, D.C., which she and other chamber staff will attend at the end of June. Additionally, she is finalizing a website geared toward the South Georgia community.

“Nicole has been a perfect fit for her role at the chamber,” said Myrna Ballard, president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. “She is confident, conscientious, and goal-oriented. She knows how to get the job done.”

Peckhaus also worked as a volunteer in nine school gardens throughout Valdosta and Lowndes County during the spring semester. She grew and harvested produce, taught students about nutrition and gardening, and helped to provide the schools with healthy and cost-effective lunches. When Peckhaus returns home to Germany, she hopes to begin a similar program that helps bring healthier lunches to public schools.

“I wanted to make the most of this year, and I want to take as many experiences as I can back home with me because I know there are still a lot of stereotypes between Germany and America,” she said. “I definitely had culture shock in the beginning because I didn’t expect there to be so many differences between Germany and America. But all in all, this year has been an unforgettable experience because I have met so many great people. Living in another country gives you a whole different perspective on life because you have something to compare your own culture to.” 

Initiated in 1983, the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals was created to strengthen ties between Germany and the United States through citizen diplomacy. It is jointly funded by the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag. Participants are placed in host homes or dorms, allowing them to be fully immersed in the foreign culture and language. VSU has participated in the program for more than 25 years.

Please contact Irina McClellan, assistant director of VSU’s Center for International Programs, at (229) 333-7410 or ibmcclel@valdosta.edu to learn more or to host a future CBYX exchange student from Germany.

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