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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Exchange students' nine-month Putnam County stay ending

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Saying goodbye soon to Putnam County will be four young foreign exchange students (from left) Tomas Ochoa Garma of Guadalupe, Mexico; Susanne Schobert of Dresden, Germany; retiring PAX community coordinator Patrick Aikman, Greencastle; Yao (Bonnie) Ge of Jinan City, near Beijing, China; and Marcos Usso of Brazil, South America. Tomas and Susanne attended North Putnam High School. Bonnie Ge attended Cloverdale High School, while Marcos attended Greencastle High School.
Four teenage foreign exchange students, representing varied cultures from across the globe, recently celebrated the virtual completion of their nine-month home stay with Putnam County families.

A journey that began last August will culminate in June when they fly back to their respective homes in Mexico, Germany, China and Brazil, South America.

The departing exchange students are:

-- Tomas Ochoa Garma of Guadalupe, Mexico, who has lived with the Jerry and Elizabeth Suddarth Family at Heritage Lake.

-- Susanne Schobert of Dresden, Germany, who has lived with the Adam and Kristen Windmiller family, also of Heritage Lake.

-- Yao (Bonnie) Ge of Jinan City, near Beijing, China, whose American home was with the Jim and Jackie Dean family in Cloverdale.

-- Marcos Usso of Apucarana, Parana, Brazil, South America, guest of the Doug and Mary Beth Harms family of Greencastle.

Tomas and Susanne attended North Putnam High School. Bonnie Ge attended Cloverdale High School, where she was a homecoming princess, cheerleader and chorus member, and Marcos attended Greencastle High School, where he was a stalwart on the Tiger Cubs' sectional championship soccer team.

Many of the students are already planning their return trips to visit their adopted Putnam County families.

Former Putnam County Program of Academic Exchange (PAX) Community Coordinator Patrick Aikman, who is retiring from that position, said all four students agreed their reception in their school, their home communities and with their home families was "awesome."

Among the special activities some or all the exchange students enjoyed while in the U.S. during the school year were events such as the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, school proms, trips to Kings Island, Chicago, California, Boston to visit colleges, concerts and Pacers games in Indianapolis.

The visiting students also conducted community service projects and made cultural presentations to younger students in the Greencastle, North Putnam and Cloverdale school systems.

Host families provide the students a bedroom, meals and a comfortable, supportive home life, Aikman explained. However, the students came to the U.S. with their own spending money and medical insurance.

Sue Bock of Reelsville has assumed county community coordinator duties from Aikman for the coming school year.

Those interested in learning more about hosting a student may reach her for details by calling 225-2858.

For details about Program of Academic Exchange (PAX) go to www.pax.org.

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