Foreign exchange students add to Long Creek School

Foreign exchange students rise to the challenge at Long Creek School. Student, atop the sign in front of the school, are Hrvoje "Harvey" Vrljic of Croatia, Jackson Bull of New Zealand, Jakub Zavodny of Slovakia, Frietjoff "Freddie" Meyer of Germany and Joon-Young Han of South Korea. In front, Daniel Ramirez of Columbia. The Eagle/HEATHER SHEEDY

LONG CREEK - Thirteen students have doubled the enrollment numbers at Long Creek High School to 26. This year there are seven students living at the dormitory and six young men staying with families in the community. This is the second year the dorm has been in operation.

Three families in the Long Creek/Ritter area are each hosting two young men in their homes.

Mike and Myla Corley home, Long Creek (Myla is the Community representative for AYUSA, Academic Year U.S.A.: Joon-Young Han comes from Seoul, South Korea, and is a world away from his hometown of 14 million. At Long Creek High School, Joon is a junior who enjoys soccer. He also participates in snow sports, but will have a hard time finding a place to water ski and surf, which he enjoys in South Korea. Although he says he can't speak English well, he is hopeful that he will learn our language better. His father is a world goods trader and his mother is a homemaker. He has an older brother who attends college.

Hrvoje Vrljic, Harvey, is from Bosnia, which is made up of three nations: Serbs, Croatians and the Muslims. Harvey lives in Mostar, Croatia, a city of about 200,000. His father is a marketing manager and his mother, a day care teacher. He has a younger sister, 15, and a brother, 5. As a junior, Harvey is beginning to think about college, but is unsure of his line of studies. This is his first visit to the United States. He loves the sport of karate, enjoys soccer and basketball and looks forward to snow skiing.

Dan and Robin Herold home at Ritter: Daniel Ramirez of Cali, Colombia, left his hometown with 1.3 million people to settle at Long Creek as a junior for the 2003-04 school year. His mother is a audiologist, his father, a sanitary engineer. Studying physics is in store for Daniel when he goes to college. In 1997, his sister participated as an exchange student in Kansas, and more recently the family visited an aunt in Seattle, Wash. He's in his third year of English. He enjoys reading and "disturbing teachers," and likes the quiet lifestyle in Long Creek.

Jakub Zavodny of Slovakia joined the team from his hometown Bratislarn with a population of half a million. He appreciates the friendly people of the Long Creek community and that everyone is acquainted. Jakub's parents are architects and he has one younger sister. Jakub, a senior this year, plans to study physics and computer programming at college. He incorporates math and physics in his free time and sports interests include frisbee, table tennis, bicycling, swimming snow skiing and other sporting activities.

Elmer and Ilah Bennett home, Long Creek: Frietjoff Meyer, also known as Freddie, is a junior from Munster, Germany, a town of 20,000, but he clarified that the immediate area includes half a million people. His father is an engineer; his mother a teacher. He has one younger sister who has been an exchange student in Michigan. Freddie plans to study engineering and/or mechanics at a German college. Because he's had English in school for five years, he is fluent in the language. This year, Freddie played soccer for the first time, but he enjoys many sports - basketball, track, volleyball, water sports, snow sports, skating, bungie jumping and he plays the bass guitar. He is taking in the quietness of Long Creek and likes the community's interesting people.

Jackson Bull comes from down-under - New Zealand - from Hamilton, a city of 100,000. His father is a sheep and beef farmer; his mother a housewife. He has two sisters, one younger and one older. After his senior year at Long Creek High School, Jackson plans to attend college and become a business consultant. He is active in various sports, including soccer, track, basketball, rugby, squash, cricket and snowboarding. He said he truly enjoys his host family.

Dorm mother

Clydene Franklin from Colville, Wash., joined the team to serve as the dorm mother. For the past 13 years, she's been employed by Honeywell, an electrical manufacturer in Spokane Wash. This is her first year of undertaking a job such as this and she is enjoying the challenge of overseeing three girls and four young men.

Franklin has four grown children of her own, including one son serving in the U.S. Army at Baghdad, Iraq. Her other children live in the Seattle and Spokane areas. One connection Franklin has with Grant County is that her sister, Helen Davidson, has lived at Monument for the past 13 years.

Franklin applied for the dorm job for the 2002-03 year, partly to fill her empty-nest syndrome, and when a vacancy came up for this year, she was notified by foreign exchange student coordinator Myla Corley. Her duties at the dorm include providing meals, seeing that the kids keep up with homework and weekly housecleaning chores. On the weekends, other youth are welcome to visit the dorm to watch movies and visit. Franklin noted that the community is very involved in the school and the school is very involved with the community.

The students have enjoyed watching the local wildlife - deer, rabbits and even a black milk cow - that have grazed outside the dorm near Long Creek School. She feels that the "family" has bonded pretty well, even though it has been an adjustment for all of them as well as herself.

"This gives me an opportunity to learn about other countries and develop my people skills," said Franklin.

In her spare time, Franklin enjoys contra dancing/square dancing, painting with oils and acrylics, crocheting and gardening.

The dorm residents

Fredrik "Fredd" Musa of Norrkoping, Sweden, is a junior this year. His parents are retired and he has three sisters in school. Fredd has an avid interest in disc jockeying and seeks an outlet for his talent. He also plays soccer and basketball. He's not used to living in such a small town, or having so much homework.

Coming from Tokyo, Japan, is Shiori Minamihara. She's a junior this year and aspires to a career in law. Her family is comprised of her father, a doctor; her mother a nurse; and three younger sisters. Shiori plays volleyball and is a cheerleader at Long Creek School. She is musically inclined and plays the piano and cello.

Miriam Gandi Stenzel, also known as "Miri," comes to us from Wappertal, Germany, a city of 300,000, where her father is an insurance broker and her mother, a sales supervisor. Miri is a senior who will attend college, possibly to study medicine or science. She plays volleyball and the clarinet, although Long Creek School has no music program. She loves ballet and during her free time, likes to visit with her new friends at Long Creek, which is "completely different" from her home. She said, so far, it has been a "great experience."

Daniela "Dani" Russo is from Braganco Paulista, Brazil, a city of about 125,000. Both her parents are teachers and she is one of five children. As a senior, she has set her sites on attending college to study diplomacy or international government. She plays volleyball, basketball and is a cheerleader. Other interests include swimming, music, Internet and "hanging out with friends." Of her new home at Long Creek, Dani said she enjoys the landscape, the silence, the people.

Kushtrim "Kimi" Shehu indicated that the country of Kosovo has only 2 million people, while his hometown of Ferizzj has a population of 150,000. Kimi aspires to be a dentist, like his father. His mother is a nurse. The family also includes his sister and brother, and his grandfather. Kimi plays soccer, chess and table tennis. His hobby is reading. "I would like to learn English, American science and American culture while I am here," he said.

Panupan Anegsuwakul, with a nickname of "One," arrived in Long Creek from Bangkok, Thailand, a city of 6 million. His father is a construction businessman; his mother, a homemaker; and his older sister attends a university. One, a junior at Long Creek High School, was proud to be the goal keeper on the soccer team. Although he can't speak English very well, he smiles a lot, and there is no doubt he will improve his conversation English before the school year is over.

Gabriel "Gabo" Valdes says Long Creek is "too small," according to his standard. His hometown of Cochabawba has 2 million people. Gabo enjoys soccer. He is a senior planning to study business, finance or economics at the Georgia State University in Bolivia. His father owns a company that produces machines for science laboratories. His mother is a housewife and he is one of three children.

Even though the students may have come to us from all over the world, they do agree on one thing - they are assigned too much homework! Some indicated that American academic levels are below studies in their home countries, except in chemistry. Most have been studying the English language in school, but are very interested in honing their conversational English skills. They are interested in mixing with their communities and each has interests and talents to share. Any family who is interested in opening their heart and minds to a new "foreign" experience is encouraged to contact AYUSA coordinator Myla Corley at (541) 421-3055.

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