United States Senator Olympia J. Snowe met with two foreign exchange students from Germany Wednesday, June 15, both of whom are currently living in Maine.

Karl Richter of Hamburg attended Forest Hills High School in Jackman, and Ben Rabe of Chemnitz attended Belfast Area High School. The students spent the 2010-2011 school year in Maine as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program.

“I am grateful that Karl and Ben had the tremendous opportunity to study in our great state of Maine over the past school year,” said Snowe, in a press release. “By enabling students to experience both Maine and our nation’s communities and citizens firsthand, exchanges play a vital role in fostering improved international relations. When aligned with our public diplomacy efforts, these programs can help build trust and prepare the next generation of leaders to work together on the shared challenges of the 21st century.”

The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program is sponsored jointly by the U.S. Congress and the German Parliament. Started in 1983, the exchange program is for high school students who want to live with a host family and attend school for one academic year.

According to the program’s website, Congress-Bundestag scholarship recipients gain firsthand experience of American or German life, including family, school, culture, and recreation — and more than 17,000 students have participated since the program began.