Former Redwood Valley High School exchange student, Bennett Vollbehr, adjusting to life in time of COVID-19

Troy Krause
Bennett Vollbehr, an exchange student at Redwood Valley High School during the 2017-18 school year, is adjusting to life's many changes in Germany.

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories about former foreign exchange students who spent time in Redwood Falls, the experiences they have had since returning home and how they are dealing with the current issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bennett Vollbehr is the kind of person who seems to adapt well to changes. That proved to be an important characteristic in 2017 when he arrived in Redwood Falls as an exchange student, and it has served him well since returning to Germany both in terms of his education as well as how he has adjusted to life under the regulations related to COVID-19. 

When Vollbehr returned to Germany from the United States he had to retake 10th grade in school.

“So because I didn’t know many of the students in the new grade I got to know many new people and friends, which I was very happy about,” Vollbehr explained.

Being a former exchange student hasn’t effected his everyday life in Germany that much, but the experience definitely changed him.

“I learned a lot about other cultures, people and much more, which helped shape me into who I am today and also helped me find new passions which have greatly contributed to what I am going to do in the future. For that I am very thankful to everyone who contributed to my exchange year in any way, shape or form,” he added.

In the future Vollbehr is first planning on finishing high school. Then he is planning on studying communications design, which involves many aspects such as web, film, advertising or app design.

Vollbehr indicated he started hearing about coronavirus around the start of the new year as the virus started to spread in China.

“First I thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal, but around the beginning of March it started to get a bit more serious in Germany. That’s where I started to actually realize that it was going to be pretty bad,” Vollbehr explained.

Like others, Vollbehr did his schooling at home, but he also has done a lot more working at a job he has at a supermarket which resulted in him not really being bored at all.

“I still can meet up with one of my friends at a time and we can still go out as normal. We just have to keep a distance from others,” he added.

In the beginning of March, the government shut down large events with over 1,000 attendees.

After things got a lot more serious schools closed, along with clubs, then restaurants and stores. A minimum distance between pedestrians was introduced, and shortly after only two people at a time were allowed to meet up with the exception of people living in the same house. There was never a complete shutdown.

People were allowed to move around freely and do what they want as long as it doesn't involve more than two people.

Vollbehr indicated he is doing just fine, adding he is practicing social distancing apart from the occasional meet up with a friend.

“The only thing I am concerned about is the disrespect some people are showing by either being very selfish by buying way more than they need or completely disregarding the health of others,” he added.