As an international student, Paulina Heuss sees herself as an ambassador of sorts, representing German culture while learning about her host country.
“Everyone is always interested in my country and what I do. They’re eager to find something out about my country, and everyone wants to show me what it’s like here,” she said.
Home for Paulina is a small city near Frankfurt, where she is apprenticed as a custom tailor. She came to SUNY Broome through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), which sends 75 German students to the United States annually to attend college and intern in the local communities.
Program participants come from a variety of fields, and CBYX tries to find them destinations pertinent to their fields. Placing a tailor was somewhat of a challenge, Paulina admitted.
“They wanted to place me near New York City because of the fashion industry,” she said. “I often have the chance to visit the city and the fashion museums there.”
Students in the year-long program spend their first six months at college and the second at their internship. At SUNY Broome, Paulina took classes in photography, drawing and marketing, giving her the opportunity to explore subjects outside of the fashion field.
Paulina has trained in the manufacturing side of fashion, and Professor Stephen Ohl’s marketing class gave her needed insight into the principles behind a business. Photography, which she took with Instructor J.W. Johnston, proved her favorite class. She does digital photography as a hobby, so the prospect of working with film and a darkroom provided new avenues for exploration.
Her drawing class with Professor Patricia Evans taught her patience, and provided another outlet for creativity.
“I felt like I didn’t have the chance to do something like that in Germany and I thought I would try it,” she said of her classroom experience. “The teachers were so welcoming and I really appreciated that.”
She joined the college’s International Student Organization, and also volunteered in a variety of capacities, a requirement of the exchange program. She helped out at community events for Little Italy in Endicott, worked at a food pantry and also visited the BC Center, where she read the children a German fairytale about a tailor and taught them basic sewing. While at the campus childcare facility, she also taught them a few words of her native tongue.
“I think they had fun and were interested in the language,” she said.