Foreign students seek homes in Putnam County

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nearly 40 students from Western Europe and Asia are anxiously waiting to find a congenial, qualified home with a Putnam County family before the start of school this fall at North Putnam, Greencastle, South Putnam and Cloverdale.

As a result, Patrick Aikman of Greencastle, the community coordinator for Program Academic Exchange (PAX), is seeking families of all types to welcome these screened young people to the county for anywhere from six weeks to a single semester or two semesters.

The young people all speak English.

Families interested in hosting a student from abroad may contact Aikman (653-8504) for further information on requirements and expectations. The PAX website,, offers information about the program.

So that Putnam County families and their children may consider the interests and background of these overseas guests-to-be, profiles for several students follow. The information is designed to help those who would welcome adding a new cultural dimension to their lives without even leaving home:

Svenja from Germany -- The 15-year-old daughter of an industrial engineer and tax consultant from Germany, Svenja will be at the 10th-grade level when she enrolls at a Putnam County school. She has studied English five years, Latin four years and Spanish two years.

She is described as "a friendly, open-minded and curious teenager" who has "a way with animals." Her outside interests are related to music and sports. She loves swimming and is a trained lifeguard.

Her English ability is above average, her high school teacher notes. Her motivation to live and study abroad is a "direct result of her enthusiasm and strong focus on languages, both native and foreign." She can't wait to be part of an American family.

Luis from Spain -- Luis is likely to enter at the 11th-grade level when he comes to Indiana. His interests include soccer, skiing, swimming, tennis and movies. His father is a teacher and his mother pursues journalism.

He is described as "an active boy with an enthusiastic nature." An athletic student, sports are important to Luis, especially soccer as his country of Spain is defending World Cup champion. He is proud to have won a soccer championship with his school team, and he hopes he will have the chance to continue playing during his exchange student status.

Luis looks forward to sharing many things about the Spanish culture with his host family. A "friendly and funny boy,'' Luis would be considered a great addition to his host family and school.

Sara from Italy -- An 18-year-old from Italy, Sara has studied English for six years and is anxious to use it in America. She has "determination, maturity and independence" as well as a sunny character.

She lives in the same small city she was born in and therefore has many close friends and relatives nearby. She attends a linguistics high school where she studies language interests. She hopes to continue studying languages and some day live abroad.

For now, she is eager to live in the U.S. for 10 months, and would like to make new friends and learn all about American culture. Her parents write that she is aware of upcoming challengers she may face, but she is a very determined young lady. She enjoys reading, volleyball and fitness. Her likely grade assignment is at the senior level.

Maxime from France -- An 18-year-old Frenchman interested in playing the guitar and piano, Maxime likes to go camping and play volleyball. He will enter at the 12th-grade. He is described by his teacher "as a very nice young man" who has "ability to adapt and is ready to learn all he can about American life."

A great student (with a GPA of A+) he is serious about his studies. His teacher notes that he is "always listening, working and participating" in class.

Maxime has always dreamed of coming to the U.S. and is interested to experience American culture firsthand. Music is one of his main hobbies and he loves to practice his guitar. His interviewer notes he is "keen to learn more about new places, new environments and a new way of life." His father is a managing director and his mother is an economist.

Shuyang from China -- According to his friends, Shuyang (Sid) will take the initiative to help his friends when they need him. He is a friendly, positive 16-year-old from China with lots of interests.

When he can, he likes to swim, hike and play basketball and football. Sid loves computers, and he actually won an award as his state's youngest Photoshop engineer at age 11. He loves animals, especially dogs.

Sid is excited about coming to the U.S. because of its diversity, and he loves to eat American food. He looks forward to sharing his Chinese background with Putnam County classmates and helping his host family with chores around the house. He would be happy to cook his new American family some Chinese meals.

Shuyang's father is a general manager in China and his mother is the director of a general office.

Nathalie from Sweden -- Nathalie describes herself as "an active, social, happy and loving person." She is excited about her upcoming exchange as it has been her dream for two years. Nathalie has several hobbies that keep her busy, like playing the piano, running, soccer, fitness, cooking and baking.

She likes playing and watching sports, going to the gym for a run, but cooking and baking are her favorite pastime. She writes in her application to come to America, "I've actually written my own cookbook filled with my favorite recipes so I can cook for my new family." She promises to make her grandmother's Swedish meatballs for her hosts.

Nathalie plans to get involved with school clubs and activities. Enthusiastic about drama club, Nathalie's dream is to become an actress. She has studied English for nine years and will enter her new school as a junior.

Michal from Poland -- Michal. 16, is among the first Polish students to join this exchange program.

Hailing from a town outside of Warsaw, he is described as "a boy of many talents and interests --- cycling, computers, chess, karate, table tennis, hiking and drawing. Last year he won a chess competition in his nation. Two years ago he reached the highest peak in Switzerland on his bike.

He plays keyboard in a band and writes computer programs that are useful to other students. MIchal attends an IT institute in Warsaw which enablers him to improve his skills in the programming and technical areas.

His teacher states that Michal "is one of the best students I've taught." This ambitious and open-minded young man can't wait to meet

"interesting people from the U.S. and share different points of view and get to know the lifestyle of an American." He has eight years of English and two years of German. Both his father and mother are economists and CFOs.

Sukyoung from South Korea -- If Sukyoung had a free day, she would go to the movies, read a book, or play badminton or tennis. She loves to cook and bake anything from traditional Korean foods to cookies, breads and pies.

The 16-year-old is described as focused, and able to accomplish what she sets her mind to do. In ninth grade she finished first in her class and second in her school in a school-wide exam.

Sukyoung has traveled a lot with her family and the Girls Scouts. She is nervous about next year, but she should be successful because of a determination to learn and meet new people. She is happy to cook her host family some Korean food, and she can't wait to become part of your family.

Her interests and activities include calligraphy, piano, the recorder, tennis, swimming and badminton. Her father is an Army officer and her mother is an English tutor.

Yumi from Japan -- Yuma is a creative and optimistic 17-year-old. She takes special interest in Japanese calligraphy and making scrapbooks. Yumi enjoys spending time with young children and hopes to have younger siblings so she can teach them origami.

As vice president of her school's student council, Yumi's "daring leadership leads many projects to success," notes her teacher. While unsure of her future endeavors, Yumi has been inspired by Mother Theresa to help people all around the world.

Yumi likes a good challenge and is ready to take on new things. She cannot wait to meet her family and tell them "I want to become a true family with you." At 17, she will likely be a 12th-grader in her new school. She is an "A" student and her interests include youth groups, calligraphy, scrapbooking, student government and volleyball. Her father is a retail store worker and her mother works in an office.

Henrik from Germany -- Henrik is '"motivated to go to the U.S. to learn the culture and to make new friends." He lived with a host family in France for two weeks and developed a close relationship, an experience that has inspired him to go on exchange in the U.S. for a full year.

Henrik, 17, loves playing the piano and has been practicing in since he was eight. He is also a member of a local dance group and enjoys youth groups. He is looking forward to immersing himself in American culture.

A self-motivated student, Henrik's specific interests and activities include piano, soccer, dancing and volunteering. An A student, he has studied English six years and will likely be in 11th grade in the U.S. His father is an IT project manager and is mother is a business assistant.

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