Security Bank welcomes German exchange student

Friday, June 2, 2017
Pictured above, Johannes is seen with his Security Bank family. (L-R, front row) Trae Baker and Johannes Stahl (L-R, back row) Kristen Welch, Jennie Hightower, Jared Agee, and Megan Brock.


Last August, 19-year-old German exchange student Johannes Stahl packed his luggage and embraced his family one last time before embarking on a yearlong trip to the United States. Since the beginning of Johannes’ journey he has experienced a taste of major U.S. city scenes including New York, Nashville, Ft. Myers, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington D.C, as well as the Canadian city of Toronto.

Johannes is seen during travels to locations of New Orleans, Louisiana (above) and Niagara Falls (below).

Currently, Johannes is employed with Security Bank and residing with David and Sherry Lions; however, this summer, Johannes’ journey abroad will resume, as he will travel with other exchange students westwards, towards golden California.

“We plan on visiting Yellowstone Park, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The program funds some of the travel, but everything I do for fun I must fund myself, but it is absolutely worth it,” smiled Johannes.

Native to a rural town located just north of Frankfort, Johannes’ dreams of traveling overseas were realized after participating in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals [CBYX], a program developed in 1983 to encourage strengthened bonds between Germany and the U.S. through citizen diplomacy.

“I live in a very small rural area,” laughed Johannes. “There are only 300 people there. It’s just a very tiny town. … I joined the program to learn more about other cultures and to improve my language skills, and just to see another country and get a better understanding of how things work in the United States. I also feel the experience has allowed me to gain a better understanding of myself. You come here all alone and without your former friends. You are starting a new chapter in your life.”

Prior to his arrival in Dyersburg, Johannes took time to see many major cities, and enjoyed being able to see cotton for the very first time in his life.

Pictured above, Johannes is seen viewing a cotton field for the first time in his life.

“When I first arrived in New York City, I took a tour through cities of Atlanta, Columbia, Charleston, and a lot more cities. … So far my best experience has just been enjoying the whole Southern lifestyle, the barbecue especially,” laughed Johannes. “I have also enjoyed visiting many of the cities, but one of the greatest enjoyments I have had since being in Dyer County has been the opportunity to see the other side of agriculture. In Germany, my family has large farm, but we do not have cotton. Coming to Dyer County, I was able to see cotton for the very first time. It was an amazing experience for me.”

Another cultural difference pointed out by Johannes was the food, as he had never tasted Mexican food or been to a fish fry until coming to Dyer County.

“Mexican food is amazing,” laughed Johannes. “That was definitely a good experience.”

Despite diverse dialects found throughout both northern and southern states, Johannes says he has had little trouble with language barriers and feels his efforts to fully express himself verbally have been reached with overall success.

“I guess a common stereotype of Germans is that we are perceived to be very direct. I feel that Americans try to beat around the bush a little bit, so I have to adjust to that, and try to be less direct so I don’t come off as being rude,” laughed Johannes.

Prior to his employment at Security Bank, Johannes attended one semester of classes at Dyersburg State Community College, where he studied business administration.

“I took economics and accounting, because that was my major back in Germany. I also took speech and an American history class because that is something that has always interested me. It was a pretty good experience. I made some friends and they took pretty good care of me. I spent some time working in the library there.”

A lover of sports and avid soccer player, Johannes says he was very happy to be introduced to American football, and greatly enjoyed watching games at Dyersburg High School.

“Terry Glover took me to several games,” said Johannes. “I really enjoyed being able to watch the games. It was pretty cool.”

During a period of time spent in Chattanooga, Johannes was also able to intern for two months with East Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.

And while Johannes’ many travels and experiences during his time in the states have all proved rewarding in their own regard, he says he truly values the relationships and experience built during his time served at Security Bank.

“I really have to thank Security Bank for taking such good care of me,” said Johannes. “I have went to a lot of community events, and learned a lot more about the dynamic of banking. It has really been a pretty cool experience. Everyone here has taken a lot of time to explain things to me. Going back home, I plan on staying in the banking field, so working at Security Bank has given me a great overview of how things work, and ways to improve processes.”

Since first arriving in the states, Johannes says he has yet to become homesick; however, he maintains weekly conversations with his parents, while also submitting newsletters about his journey to his hometown’s local newspaper.

“Sometimes, my parents tell me they pick up the paper and see me there on the front page in an article I have submitted, recanting tales of recent experiences here in America. I think it really helps them to know I am enjoying the experience, and I enjoy being able to share the experience with those back home,” said Johannes.

Security Bank Vice President of Marketing Megan Brock says Johannes has been a pleasure to have at the banking institution and is greatly valued for his knowledge of loans and accounting, and commended Johannes on his involvement in numerous community events including those of Kiwanis, the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce, and Dyersburg City Schools.

Speaking on behalf of Johannes’ time employed at Security Bank was President and CEO David Hayes.

“The contribution our team and customers received interacting and learning from Johannes during his time at Security Bank is not measurable,” said Hayes “In a world where our views on other countries and their inhabitants can be affected by news and events, it’s a unique and awesome experience to get to know individuals on a professional and personal level from these other areas of the globe.

“I always look forward to the talents and perspective these young people like Johannes bring to us through the Dyersburg State Community College Student Exchange Program, and I hope they leave having had a remarkable experience and develop fond memories they will savor all their life.

“It has absolutely been Security Bank’s honor having Johannes join our Security Bank family the past few months. He has embraced and exemplified community banking during his time with us. We will truly miss his knowledge, personality, and hard work when he goes back to Germany!”

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