(Editor's note: This story about a charismatic Mexican teenage musician is presented here in the hope a family reading it will reach out and want to offer Tomas a caring home in one of the following school districts -- Greencastle, North Putnam or South Putnam -- during the 2011-12 school year. Any interested family should contact Pat Aikman at 653-8504 for further details and qualifications.)
Tomas Garma might be considered your average 15-year-old teenager, except for the fact he's traveling unaccompanied several thousands of miles from his home in Guadalupe, Mexico, to live, he hopes, with an interesting and caring host American family.
Tomas is exceptional in other ways as well. He describes himself as "charismatic and friendly, a happy fellow who shares and is a good guy, intelligent and a 'people person.'"
As a young teenager he has taught himself to play the guitar and is a member of an award-winning rock band in his large hometown. In fact, he says if he had a totally free Saturday, "I would spend all day, playing my guitar and listening to songs."
Sounds like an American teenager.
He loves the guitar because it is his way of expressing his feelings; he feels the same about art and he enjoys paintings, sculpture and photography.
"And I also like a lot of sports, like soccer, football and other outdoor activities."
"He is a good student," writes his teacher Beatriz Guitierrez, one of his references, who rates him as "'excellent " in maturity, friendliness, initiative, adaptability and ability to deal with problems.
Asked why he wants to visit and stay with an American family, Tomas explains, "I want to learn about different ways of thinking and different ways of doing things. So many people have already told me that it (going to the U.S.) is a great experience, and I want to know how great it is, as well as improving my English."
"I also like to go shopping malls to see things that can be interesting for me. I like to go to the movies with my friends, my family, or alone. I love movies. I also like to take time to myself just to think about my life, problems, possible solutions to them, or also things that happen that I like to remember."
His favorable subjects in school are math, physics and chemistry.
The only introduction Tomas has had to far to American culture was during his visits to McAllen, Texas. "Going there is a 'typical' trip that many in my city do -- just to buy things in the shopping malls," he says.
At his adoptive American school, Tomas hopes to be active in music, track and field and other athletics and during U.S. cold winters he wants to learn to snowboard and do other winter sports, which will be new to him given his hometown's climate.
Tomas' father describes his oldest son (among three boys) as having "a relaxed personality, who demonstrates care and interest in the development of his younger brothers."
He is interested in preparing for his future, his father says, and thinks that learning about other cultures will make it easier to develop his own professional life.
"In our home," his father continues, "he shares the duties of cleaning the bathroom every weekend and making the beds of the three brothers."
Tomas is proud of his own country and would like to teach Americans about it.
"The variety of our food and traditions are important to me, we are friendly and all the people are hard-working. My county is very beautiful because of its natural features and resources."
Tomas is scheduled initially to spend 4-6 weeks with a short-term host family in the North Putnam school district. After that he will await an invitation to become part of an American host family for the remainder of the school year in either the Greencastle or South Putnam school district or continue at North Putnam High School with another host family.
Anyone who would like details about welcoming Tomas to join their family or who might know someone who would enjoy his talents and personality and cultural background, is asked to contact Patrick Aikman, community coordinator for the Program of Academic Exchange (PAX), by calling 653-8504 or e-mailing questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org