When Stefan planned his arrival in the United States he had two goals in mind, to be a great au pair for a very special family and share his passion for the sport of handball with others in his new home. He had been playing since the age of 5 back in Germany and felt involving himself in something familiar would help ease the transition of moving to a new country.
Upon arriving in New York City Stefan quickly learned that handball did not have the same following in the United States as it did abroad. Many, including his host family (who he likes to think of as '˜his family away from home'), had never even heard of the sport. This motivated Stefan, as he wanted to share his joys and passions from growing up in Germany with his new family.
'My host family did not know about handball before. After I introduced them to the sport, they really liked it. They saw me play many times, we watched games together on TV and possibly my host child wants to play some day.'
Stefan joined a local handball team in New York City and felt the experience helped to enhance his au pair year.
'Handball made my transition to the US so much easier. I came to the US basically not knowing anyone so joining the handball team helped me a lot. On our team we have many different nationalities, so every single person represents a different nation and culture. Handball back home and in the US is the same regarding the rules and how to play. Culturally it's a whole different story; you have teammates from all over the world together. That's how I learned about traditions in different countries."
Together the team shared a common goal and each member found a more enriching experience because of the time they spent together. Stephan's handball team eventually found themselves playing in the US National Championship game, and were even invited to play another tournament in Argentina, featuring many Olympic Handball athletes from around the world.
Stefan had an incredible time while in the United States; he gained an amazing new host family who supported him every step of the way and also gained a U.S. National Handball Championship trophy!