German Exchange Student Glides Through Junior Year


Ask lanky 16-year-old Payson High School junior, Christoph Bruhn, what class he finds the toughest and he will admit it is calculus. It is a course he will need when he attends university in Germany, or joins the military in a few years. Either way, his eyes lit up when he said, "I want to be a pilot."

Bruhn, an exchange student from Germany, is already on his way to a life in the skies.


Christoph Bruhn

He became licensed to fly gliders shortly before he came to Payson at the beginning of the school year. Glider planes are made of wood and hard plastic. They do not have engines.

"Another plane takes you into the air and you glide in the thermals (warm winds) at five meters per second," Bruhn said. "That is pretty fast."

Bruhn is from the village of Leveste (population 7,000). He rides his bike three miles to school through green hills and wheat fields.

The city of Hannover (pop. 700,000) is a 15-minute bus trip away, with all a city has to offer Bruhn and his friends -- soccer games, concerts and going to the disco. He also enjoys swimming, surfing and squash.

In Payson, Bruhn hangs out with friends and goes to the movies. He enjoys action films.

He plays the trombone in the Payson High School band.

As to music outside of school?

"I listen to everything except techno, rap and country. Country is a big deal over here, but nobody listens to country music in Germany," he said.

Leveste's climate is about the same as Payson's, but Germany has higher humidity, so the desert landscape of the Southwest is completely different to Bruhn.

He toured the Southwest, including the Grand Canyon, with his family this past summer and will do so again in June when his time as an exchange student ends.

So far, Disneyland in California is the most interesting place he has been in the United States, he said. His host family, the Buskirks, took him to Disneyland over fall break.

Although Bruhn has a younger sister, Yvonne, at home, he said, he is not troubled by homesickness. He makes a couple of phone calls a month and keeps in touch via e-mail.

Plus, eight of Bruhn's friends are currently exchange students in Romania, Australia, China, New Zealand and Spain.

"We have to be awake, all at different times, when we chat on the Internet," he said.

American TV shows and the fact that his father had been an exchange student in San Diego prompted Bruhn to want to see the States.

Being an exchange student here gives Bruhn the opportunity meet many new people and improve his English language skills.

The year away from his own high school is not without a price. Because classes are easier here, he will probably need to repeat the 11th grade. Then, he will have two more years until graduation.

"It has been a wonderful year so far and that's because of my family and my friends," Bruhn said. "I like it here."

Education First Foundation for Foreign Study, the organization that sponsored Bruhn and another Payson exchange student, Maria Koesser, are in need of host families.

Local coordinator Edie Miller has more information.

She can be reached at (928) 476-4871 or visit

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