Editor's note: This story is about highly motivated foreign students from such diverse countries as Thailand, South Korea, Germany, France and Norway and is printed here in hopes a potential county family will reach out and offer one or more of these talented, English-speaking students a caring home in one of the following school districts -- North Putnam, Greencastle, South Putnam, Cloverdale, Brazil or Clinton or any other nearby communities -- during the 2012-13 school year, beginning in mid to late August. Interested families may contact Patrick Aikman at 653-8504 or may e-mail him at email@example.com for details or to ask questions.
Four Putnam County families are currently hosting (PAX) foreign students with two in Heritage Lake/Coatesville and one each in Greencastle an Cloverdale.
The students listed have been screened by the Program of Academic Exchange (PAX), based in Port Clinton, N.Y., and have recommendations from teachers in their own countries. To learn more about PAX, visit the website Pax.org.
Students looking for local host families include:
* Eugenia Regina from Mexico: Affectionately known as "Reggie," she is a happy, energetic girl who is excited to begin her upcoming exchange program in the U.S. Reggie enjoys both athletic and creative hobbies and was a member of her school soccer team that won its league's title three years ago. Singing, dancing and photography are also some of her favorite activities, and like most teenage girls she has a love for fashion. Her teacher finds her "a wonderful, sweet girl who is always willing to do her best," and adds that she "is a joy to have in class." She hopes to form a close bond with her host American family and is looking forward to learning a lot about American culture. She has also played volleyball, tennis, gymnastics and likes swimming, acting and ballet. She says she is a huge fan of Justin Bieber and has attended his concerts in Mexico. At 17, she describes herself as "energetic and funny and loves to go out with her friends or spend the day with her family and go to church."
* Gabriel from Venezuela: Gabriel is thrilled to have an opportunity to live as an American student and be your son or brother for a year. Gabriel's brother was an exchange student a few years ago, so he understands the objectives of the program and is enthusiastic about all the new things he will learn and experience. Family is important to Gabriel, who has a close relationship with his parents, 20-year-old brother and his grandfather. He hopes to form a close bond with his American host family and would love them to teach him all about American culture, basketball, and pop rock, and in return he would like to share the Venezuelan culture with them. Gabriel participates in hobbies such as basketball, swimming, karate, baseball and soccer. His personality and appreciation for this opportunity to live as an American are easy to see. "Something that I really want in the U.S. is to have a good family who loves me and will show me their culture at the same time," writes Gabriel. "And I would like to show them how in my life, my culture, the people of my country and the language that I speak contain universal truths applicable to all cultures." Gabriel is 17. His mother and father are civil and mechanical engineers, respectively.
* Jhwan from South Korea: When Jhwan was born, his parents knew the name they had given him represented a "knowledgeable and shiny person" and one day he would represent himself as their outstanding son. Jhwan believes he gets his wit from his parents and his mother agrees that and his funny nature are his most admirable qualities. His best friend describes him as follows: "He has a true and honest approach and a charming air. He doesn't talk much but his sharp and humorous words are what his friends like most." Jhwan is an active sportsman, always playing one sport or another -- soccer, martial arts, skiing -- despite his chaotic study schedule. At 17, he has practiced tae kwon do for four years, winning many awards. He loves other sports like soccer, baseball, swimming and skiing, but also expects to spend time with a new host family and new friends this year in the USA. He says in his personal essay "I also want to show graceful traditional dance of my country to you," and assures any American mother "that I am not picky about food. I can eat every food I believe, so please do not worry about menu."
* Roos van Manaen from The Netherlands: Roos is described as "a sweet, energetic girl who is very excited to spend a year living in the U.S." She writes, "I think going to the USA would be a nice way to combine going to school and exploring a different part of the world." Though she may be a bit quiet at first, Roos is confident her experience will help her become more self-reliant, and she is eager to improve her English by speaking with Americans. Sports, school and family are priorities in Roos' life. In school she is a motivated student known for being sporty and open-minded. After school she can be found at tennis practice or the gym. She has been playing tennis for four years, and likes to stay fit and healthy by going to the gym. She is hopeful that she will be able to continue playing tennis during her exchange experience. Roos also has a soft spot for children and would love to have siblings in her host family. Her kind and caring nature, along with her enthusiasm, makes her a wonderful candidate for exchange. Roos says she would like her career to involve health care and thinks she would enjoy nursing as a career.
* Carla Steffens from Germany: At 16, she is "an athletic teenager who cannot wait to discover a new part of the world." Characterized as "open-minded and polite with a great command of the English language," Carla is growing up in Oldenburg, a city of 160,000 in the north of Germany. At 5-9, she says her hobby is playing basketball, which she has enjoyed for five years. "I am on a great team with lots of good friends," she writes. But school always comes first, and Carla studied hard to maintain her top marks with a GPA of "A". Her teacher notes she is interested in learning about different cultures and feels she is well suited for exchange as she is "a very determined person, self-confident and self-assured. Carla is excited to meet her host family and hopes it will be an eye-opening semester abroad. Carla's mother is a social educationist and her father is a teacher. "I read a lot of books of every kind -- thrillers, fantasy, novels or love stories. At the moment I like to read 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins." I She wants to get to know the American lifestyle because she's heard school spirit in America is much better than in Germany. And, of course, she wants to learn to speak English much more fluently.
* Kotaro Imai from Japan: Both parents and friends alike say Kotaro is a "serious, intelligent and inquisitive young man." From a young age, it was apparent he was going to have a way with numbers and letters. He says, "'My mother told me that I stopped crying when I saw numbers at the age of one." Ever since, he has enjoyed studying math, but also finds different alphabets and languages incredibly interesting. Formally, he is learning English and Mandarin, but on the side he studies many languages and recently has been teaching himself French. He would like to be either a mathematician or a linguist when he grows up. An avid reader, he hopes to spend some time indulging his host family in the telling of his favorite Japanese tales so that you may become more familiar with his culture. It is not all books and math for Kotaro, however, he is also an able athlete having won fourth place in a 25K school marathon. Kotaro can't wait to learn about American culture and hopes to "discover differences and have precious experiences."
* Florian from Germany. At 16, Florian is interested and involved in a variety of hobbies. He is bound to be a sponge for new excitement and activities during his year in the U.S. A good student with his studies under control, he has a lot of extra time for leisure and exploration. This past year he finished a course which led to an official license to be a Youth Group Team Leader. He was also proud to have climbed the tallest mountains in Germany on holiday from school. However, Florian is first and foremost a rugby player and also has dabbled in basketball. While in the States, he hopes to learn and take part in some of the typical American sports that are less popular in Germany. Sports aside, Florian also loves to play music and currently studies guitar after having been a keyboard player in the past. Like most boys his age, he enjoys the cinema, going to amusement parks, playing sports or just hanging out. He is excited to live as part of your family this coming year.
* Janne from Norway: With a smile and an out-going and social personality, Janne won't have any trouble jumping feet first into her new adventure. She loves to be surrounded by friends and family and rarely has a dull moment. As one of four children, Janne grew up close to her siblings and says her sisters are like her best friends. She is also lucky to have a tight-knit extended family and spends a lot of time with cousins. Sports also have played a large role in her life. She enjoys everything from soccer to skiing, handball and biathlon training to jogging and riding horses. More recently, she has put most of these activities on hold to camp in Malta and has been to Thailand with friends. She can't wait to come to the U.S. and learn all about the American way of life. In her spare time Janne often goes jogging, listens to music and dances. "Dancing was my big interest so I quit everything else because I didn't have time enough to do everything. When I come to the USA, I really want to try something new."
* Nakarin from Thailand: Cheerful, friendly and generous are three words Nakarin uses to describe himself, and adds that he is the type of person "who can get along with anyone." He looks forward to meeting his host family and taking part in activities like bike rides, barbecues or hiking to become more knowledge about the American culture. An excellent student, his teacher writes, "Nakarin possesses a keen enthusiasm to learn English." He also finds time to have fun and enjoys sports like basketball and soccer, but can be just as happy curled up with his favorite book or playing chess. Nakarin's interest in American culture is easy to see. He especially hopes to have a close friendship with his host family. "In my free time, I like to read comic books, play chess, watch movies, swim, exercise and play my guitar. My favorite food is papaya salad, fried rice and fried crab with curry powder. I can also do all the housework all myself like cleaning up my room, and washing the dishes. I also can teach my host family how to cook --- such as broth, stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, etc. I will teach you how Thais pray and smile." At 17, Nakarin attends a boarding school near Bangkok. His parents own a garment factory.
Anyone who would like details about welcoming any of the previously described foreign exchange students or those yet to be featured in the Banner Graphic may contact Patrick Aikman, community coordinator for the Program of Academic Exchange (PAX).
If you would like additional pertinent information about the students (their informal application essays in which they describe themselves and often their families to prospective host families or headshot photos) contact Aikman at 653-8504 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any person or non-profit organization that refers a qualified family that ultimately becomes a selected host family, may receive a referral award of $150 from PAX.
Students to be featured in subsequent issues of the Banner Graphic include Purui from China (F), Pau (M) from Spain, Ines (F) from Spain, Julia (F) from Spain, Angela (F) from Spain, Sophie (F) from Belgium, Thomas (M) from Belgium, Coline (F) from Belgium, Camille (F) from France, Tanatcha (F) from Thailand, Anne (F) from Germany, Karla (F) from Germany, Josephine (F) from Germany and Victoria (F) from Mexico.
For information on these students, contact Aikman or watch for further items in The Banner Graphic.