Open house will provide information on studying in Germany

April 28, 2024

Some of the members of the Ashley family: M.J. (current exchange student from Belguim; Amari; Hanna; Abigail; Leona and Scott. Missing are Grace and Alaina.

Around the County is a presentation of Preferred Credit Union,, located locally at 266 N. Jebavy Dr., Ludington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — The members of the Ashley family of Pere Marquette Township are strong advocates of the benefits of being a foreign exchange student. On Saturday, May 4, sisters Hanna and Abagail Ashley will host an open house that celebrates the 40th year of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), a program that introduces American high school students to German culture.

The open house will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Mason County District Library Ludington Branch, 217 E. Ludington Ave.

CBYX has been a major part of one local family’s lives for several years.

In 2019, Alaina Ashley, 22, was the first in her family to participate in the program. Since that time, Hanna, 21, and Abigail, 19, have participated. Their cousin, Amari George, 17, a senior at Ludington High School, is scheduled to participate in the programming beginning this summer. The Ashley sisters are the daughters of Leona and Scott Ashley. Not only have members of the family become exchange students, but the family has hosted 25 foreign exchange students since 2008.

“My parents actually hosted several exchange students for many years, which is how my family began hosting ourselves,” Leona said. “When Alaina expressed an interest in becoming an exchange student, we needed to find an affordable way to allow her the opportunity.”

That’s when they discovered the CBYX program, which is jointly funded by the United States and German governments, as a way to increase understanding between the two countries. The scholarship program covers the costs of all major expenses such as round-trip international transportation, medical benefits, one month of language training in Germany, tuition and academic materials, residency permits/visas, and in-country support. The host family covers costs of lodging and meals.

“The only expense the student has is spending money,” Leona said. “The program recommends about $300 a month.”

The program had such a positive impact on Alaina, 22, that she decided to stay in Germany where is currently enrolled in a university there. “One year just wasn’t enough for me,” Alaina said. “It was a lot of work to enroll in college here in Germany. I actually had to go back to high school and study for two more years.”

Hanna and Abigail received a grant from CBYX to promote the program locally, in observation of its 40th anniversary.

“This is a good opportunity for anyone to learn about being an exchange student, whether they want to study in Germany or other places,” Abigail said.

“It’s such an amazing program that will completely give you a different perspective on life,” Hanna said. “I would highly recommend it to any high school student.”

Leona said students who are interested in the program should begin making preparations as early as their freshman year in high school.

“We really recommend that perspective students take additional online classes, above and beyond their normal high school curriculum,” Leona said. “There are limited scholarships available and you really need to be prepared.”

The program provides 350 scholarships annually to high school students, high school graduates in vocational fields, and young professionals.

Saturday’s open house will feature German food and conversation about the CBYX program. It is open to anyone but families that are interested in their student being an exchange student are highly encouraged to attend.

For more information on CBYX, click here.


Receive daily MCP and OCP news briefings along with email news alerts for $10 a month.

The easiest way is to sign up for an automatic monthly payment on Paypal. Click this link.

Alternative methods:

  • We can send you an invoice each month, which you can conveniently pay online or by check. If you are interested in this method, please email and we can sign you up. You can also mail a yearly check for $120 to Media Group 31, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454 (please include your email address).
  • We also accept Venmo payments.

We appreciate all our readers regardless of whether they choose to continue to access our service for free or with a monthly financial support.

If you would like to support MCP/OCP but do not wish to receive daily emails, please consider sending a contribution to any of the above methods or pay by Venmo (@masoncountypress).  We appreciate all our readers regardless of whether they choose to continue to access our service for free or with a monthly financial support.


This story and original photography are copyrighted © 2024, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

As the services of Media Group 31, LLC are news services, the information posted within the sites are archivable for public record and historical posterity. For this reason it is the policy and practice of this company to not delete postings. It is the editor’s discretion to update or edit a story when/if new information becomes available. This may be done by editing the posted story or posting a new “follow-up” story. Media Group 31, LLC or any of its agents have the right to make any changes to this policy. Refer to Use Policy for more information.

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals. Three ways to help us: Venmo: @MasonCountyPress; Paypal:; Mail a check to PO BOX 21, Scottville, MI 49454.

Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks