Granby family preps to host German foreign exchange student
The technology of the modern world connects us in ways our forbearers could only have dreamt about. Simply turn on a computer or phone and you can, within seconds, be face to face with another person on the other side of the world.
Such technology provides a sense of smallness to the world, or perhaps a sense of shrinking, wherein far-flung corners of the globe are not much further than the far corners of our state. In that sense though technology is a lie.
The immense ease with which we can communicate with people in China, Australia or even Iraq belies the true distances created by geography. The vast oceanic spaces that separate the continents can seem small, but only when you consider those distances from the comfort of home.
For foreign exchange students living in the US the distance between places like Grand County and Stuttgart Germany is vast and is something more than just an academic concept. It is something Johanna Schneider will become very familiar with when she arrives in Grand County later this month to begin her year as an exchange student with the Walker family of Granby.
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Schneider, 16, currently lives in Stuttgart Germany but on August 13 she will arrive in Denver to begin her exchange year. Schneider will attend school at MPHS and has plans to participate on the high school track and field team. When she arrives her host family, including host mother Tara Walker host dad Adam Walker and their two daughters Avery and Zandra, will take Schneider on a brief tour of the Denver area before heading to the high country.
The Walker family selected Schneider because they felt she was a uniquely appropriate fit for Grand County as an exchange student. Tara Walker said Schneider’s bio outlined her love of horses, cooking and wildlife. Walker says Schneider also loves to ski though where she lives in Germany offers few opportunities. “She is very excited about the opportunity to ski more often,” Tara said.
Tara Walker has a personal connection to exchange student programs. Her best friend is an Australian exchange student who attended high school for a year with Tara. Tara’s family also hosted a Turkish student while she was in school.
“I love the perspective it gave me,” Tara said. “I grew up in a small town. It helped me to learn about different people around the world.” Tara explained some of the reasoning behind her family’s decision to host a student this year saying, “We would love to travel around the world but that isn’t always monetarily possible. We thought we would bring the world to our daughters.”
Johanna is part of the exchange organization known as Education Travel and Culture (ETC). Amanda Rosenfried is a Local Coordinator for ETC based out of the Fraser area and she is looking for additional host families this school year.
Rosenfried is a teacher with Winter Park Christian but in her spare time she works to connect local families with exchange students for ETC. The program requires perspective host families provide three meals a day for hosted students; provide transportation to and from school, to include transportation on the school bus; and each student must have a bedroom while living in the US, though students can share a bedroom with a sibling within five years of age of the exchange student. Most students with ETC are between the ages of 15 and 18.
Exchange students arrive in the US with health insurance, computers and emergency funds. Likewise American host families are not expected to provide exchange students with spending money, which is the student’s responsibility.
According to Rosenfried ETC works directly with the US State Department and all ETC exchange students must pass an English language test before being accepted by the program. The ETC Exchange Program accepts students from a select set of countries including: Japan, Thailand, China, South Korea, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Brazil.
The program only accepts students who are nationals of those listed countries, though students may have been living in a different country prior to placement in the US.
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