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‘BUSCO TEEN: Taiwan-bound

August 15, 2012

Post & Mail photo / Robin R. Plasterer — Katy Hockerman will spend the 2012-2013 academic year in Taiwan.

CHURUBUSCO — Katy Hockerman’s nomadic lifestyle all began when she was just a little girl and wanted an Irish accent.
“My dad told me that if I wanted that accent I would have to go to Ireland and live there for a while,” said Hockerman, 18, and a recent graduate of Churubusco Junior Senior High School.
After spending a year in Denmark in 2010-11, this young woman is taking a gap year from college and going to Taiwan for the 2012-13 academic year.
Hockerman has just been awarded one of 600 National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarships.
Funded by the United States Department of State, Hockerman earned a merit-based scholarship to learn less commonly-taught languages.
Hockerman leaves for Taiwan Aug. 20 and will be there for a year.
Fluent in French, Hockerman also speaks Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.
“When I finished my year in Denmark, I felt there was more that I could do so I Googled ‘foreign exchange’ and saw the State Department link and went for it,” she said.
Her research paid off, and Hockerman received a complete scholarship including air fare.
Hockerman had to go before a panel of judges from the State Department in order to be awarded one of five scholarships in Indiana. Two-thousand youth applied in the United States for these 600 scholarships.
While in Taiwan she will take three courses at Wenzao Ursiline College. She’ll study Taiwan reading, writing and cultural speaking. Hockerman will have a private tutor.
“My host family has already contacted me. They speak very little English, but they love the TV show ‘NCIS’. I will be living in the second largest city in Taiwan named Kaohsiung. It’s in the southwest part of Taiwan,” said Hockerman.
According to Hockerman, Taiwan is the most densely populated country on the planet.
“I will live within the city limits. My host sister is Emily and my older host sister, Tiffany, lives in Germany so I doubt I’ll meet her,” she said.
This globe trotting teen loves the European vibe.
“It’s fantastic being global. When I was in Denmark I lived on Bornholm Island in the Baltic Sea. I had an amazing opportunity to spend a month traveling all over Europe. I traveled to Berlin and saw a former Nazi Camp in the Czech Republic, Prague, Vienna, Italy, Monaco, Amsterdam, Brussels and was in Paris for four wonderful days,” she said.
“Europe is so efficient and their public transportation system is wonderful. I appreciate the friendliness of the Europeans. There was this one time in Austria and I was looking at this map. A man got off of his bike and crossed the street to help me out. It’s just a different kind of friendliness,” said Hockerman.
She also enjoyed the old world charm and couldn’t say enough good things about the architecture.
“It was so fun living in Europe. My host mother would give me $5 and send me to the bakery to get bread for that night’s dinner. Other times she would send me to the harbor to get fish and the fisherman would throw fish to me right off of the boat,” she said.
“The food in Denmark is very unique. We ate a lot of fish, mostly smoked herring and mackerel. I got used to that and learned to like it. We often had the traditional Denmark food which is roasted or boiled potatoes, gravy and meat. But I do miss Denmark mushrooms, and I can’t find them here in America,” she said.
She is looking forward to Tai food, which she considers more edgy.
“Tai food is hard to understand. It is a mix of Aboriginal influences and a mixture of Chinese and American influences. You’ve heard of the Freshman 15, well Taiwan has the Taiwan 20,” she said.
She is also really excited about shopping in Taiwan.
“They have night markets, and we can explore for food. I’ve told my host family I’ll try anything twice. The first is simply to try it and the second try is to see if I like it,” said Hockerman.
And she loves doing laundry overseas.
“My favorite chore was laundry. I would wash our clothes and then hang them outside to dry. I miss that and the smell of clothes dried by fresh air,” she said.
So now with two student Visa’s in her possession and a passport that is getting fuller, after spending three days in New York City for orientation, Hockerman is taking a 36-hour flight to the sub-tropical land where it is humid and warm year round.
“Through her participation in the NSLI program, Hockerman will be in the vanguard of international communication and will develop the skills necessary to be a leader in the global community,” said Michelline Granjean, of NSLI-Y.
When she completes her gap year in Taiwan she will attend Indiana University, Bloomington, and plans to study public policy management and foreign administration. She will also continue studying foreign languages including Chinese and German.
She is a daughter of David and Kathy Hockerman, of Churubusco, and a granddaughter of Robert and Eileen Straub, of Tri-Lakes. Katy is a member of Grace Lutheran Church and in her spare time loves to read and play the piano. Consistent with her world-wide travels, she has been to the American states of California, Texas, Florida, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio.
She is a member of the Churubusco Rotary Club (who sponsored her trip to Denmark), the Denmark Hasle Rotary Club, Rotex (former Rotary International Youth Exchange) and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth.

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