She moved from Mombasa this past summer to Potsdam. Although her name is very German and she even holds a German passport, she can’t speak a single word of German. Maria Brunlehner, a thirteen year old Kenyan German, was born in Mombasa to a Kenyan mother and German father.
After her parents noticed her amazing swimming skills, they decided Germany would be the best place cultivate such talent. This past summer, Maria and her mother packed their bags and moved to Germany. In August she was delivered to the school Secretariat demanding a position in the school, as a German citizen, she had a right to one.
The culture shock, the cold and the language shocked Maria to a point she performed poorly during her trainings in the beginning. For this swimming genius to be admitted to an Elite Sports school, she first had to be recommended by the Landesstützpunkt. She landed at coach, Pönisch’s swimming pool for that first week but the coach wasn’t impressed. Fortunately, Maria had the aura of a genius and the coach believed in her.
With mere faith, the coach signed her recommendation and agreed to keep her in his team. Already in the second team the young lady’s performance had improved dramatically. They later found out that Maria had been so scared and confused in the first week that she could hardly concentrate on swimming.
Now she swims like a pro. Although she still needs to learn about getting around at the school and in the city, at least she’s back to her first love. She still has problems discovering how to get around the city, which bus, tram or train to take from point A to B. The first days she had no student card for the school cafeteria but the other pupils were very welcoming and took great care of her.
“Maria has great potential”, Coach Pönisch told PNN. At her first competition she was the best. “Maria is currently the best swimmer in Brandenburg for short distances”, her coach confirmed. The coach is now focused on improving her skill. Next year she’ll already be legible for the European Championships and her coach knows she can be the best at those if they prepare well enough.
Maria is currently in the boarding school in Potsdam to ensure she learns the language faster through interacting with other students all the time. Her current favourite subject is english, “At least I can understand something in that class”. She’s working hard to improve her German and at least be able to fit in with the kids at school.
She is excited about being in Germany and would love to stay here for life and achieve her goals. Her current dream is to be a better swimmer than her older sister Sylvia Brunlehner. Sylvia is currently the best female swimmers in Kenya and swims for the national team. Sylvia represented Kenya recently at the World Championships in Barcelona. Seems the skill runs in the family.
We wish her all the best……