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Exchange students speak to seniors

These exchange students spoke to area seniors here about what they have experienced here as part of the exchange program. From left to right: Espen Haugland, from Norway; Nikolozi Khachidze, from Georgia; Segalene Le Roi, from France; Emma Balsby, from Denmark; Pablo Cabrera, from Mexico; Isabela Miranda, from Brazil.

On Thursday, May 17, Cedar Springs Area Parks and Rec wrapped up their senior luncheon series for the season, with exchange students coming to talk to the group during a luncheon held at the Hilltop Board Room.

The exchange students that shared with them are Espen Haugland, from Norway; Nikolozi Khachidze, from Georgia; Segalene Le Roi, from France; Emma Balsby, from Denmark; Pablo Cabrera, from Mexico; Isabela Miranda, from Brazil.

Amanda Gerhardt, Director of Parks and Rec, related some of the things the students talked about. “These young adults spoke about their homes here in Cedar Springs and back in their countries, and how they compare, while also talking about the educational differences between the countries.

“They shared with us their favorite foods in the US and what they dislike. Many of them loved Pop Tarts, but mostly liked the snack foods and fast food restaurants they found here that they do not have in their home countries.”

She said the thing they didn’t like as much was how much we use cheese.

Gerhardt remarked that many of them said they would miss all the people they met here and the friendships they created, but they also commented about missing the sports and teams they were a part of in Cedar Springs, because that is not a part of the school system back home.

While in the US, many of them visited NYC and Chicago, while others visited Washington DC and Yellowstone National Park. They also liked visiting local things, like the Frederick Meijer Gardens.

“When they get home most of them have at lest one more year of schooling to finish,” said Gerhardt. “Isabela wants to become a doctor, Espen wants to work in music production, Segalene wants to go into hotel and restaurant management like her father,  and Nikolozi thinks he may want to teach eventually. These are just a few of their goals.

Their dreams and experiences are no different than the typical American teen, but these youngsters dared to experience things thousands of miles from home. They keep in touch with their homes via Skype and are looking forward to seeing them in person again, but have heavy hearts about leaving as well. The willingness of them to share with us shows that they are great young people that are willing to step out of their comfort zone. These kids will be amazing adults and we hope that they will come back and visit, which most of them plan to do.”

Gerhardt said she hopes that exchange student programs will help create international understanding and maybe work towards world peace.

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