From across the globe, eight international students come to Coos Bay for one year in order to experience American culture. Students participate in different sports and activities at Marshfield while enjoying new traditions and different customs. For many families this is not the first year hosting students from a foreign country.
By Karrisa Irvin | Opinion Editor
China, France and Germany are just a few of the several countries current Marshfield foreign exchange students hail from. Every year, several families in the Coos Bay area host these students ranging from a few months to a whole year.
The eight exchange students this year include Elias Mendez and Katia Oceguera from Mexico, Matilde Hekne and Anni Ostroe from Norway, Yuqi Zhou from China, Leonie Klapper and Serena Knupper from Germany and Margot Lamaiziere from France.
Mendez is living with Howard and Kathy Forte and is the sixth student they have hosted.
“We obviously love it. We spend a lot of time with the students and we get to learn about their culture,” Howard Forte said. “It is just a good time and it was good for our youngest son, Parker.”
Hekne and Knupper are living with community member Debbie Eversole and her husband Keith. Hekne enjoys living in a host home with another foreign exchange student.
“It is good, because they don’t have any kids living at home, so it is kind of good to be around someone my age,” Hekne said.
Eversole is a placement coordinator through the exchange program International Cultural Exchange Services, or ICES.
“We have actually been doing it for about seven years,” Eversole said. “There were so many kids who were looking to be placed at the end of the year that we decided we would go ahead and pick two.”
Many exchange students have gotten involved in sports since arriving. Hekne and Knupper are both involved in soccer, along with Klapper, Oceguera and Ostroe. Klapper has been playing since she was in seventh grade and hopes to continue when she returns to Germany.
“I like soccer because it is so much fun to play and I like doing sports in a team,” Klapper said.
Lamaiziere is participating in cross country. Coach Doug Landrum thinks she is fitting in well with her teammates and improving in her performance.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of progress with her actual running. She has improved her times in the last three meets in a row,” Landrum said. “We are enjoying having her on the team and she is working hard at this point.”
The foreign exchange students are experiencing vast cultural differences during their stay in Coos Bay.
“There was a lot of forest here and I thought it was really warm. Norway is really cold,” Hekne said.
Along with other multiple new experiences, the students have tried many new foods as well. Mendez had Taco Bell for the first time, Lamaiziere had her first peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Hekne sampled a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
“Everything is kind of sweeter. Nothing has [chili] in it. I always ate everything with chili,” Mendez said.
MHS classes are also a little different from what the students are used to. Several of the foreign exchange students take US History with Justin Ainsworth, Debbie Brown, or Josh Line, all history teachers at Marshfield. Brown loves teaching foreign exchange students because of the different perspective they bring to the classroom.
“They are really interested in the topic and they typically work very hard in class,” Brown said. “I think it is an amazing opportunity for our students to get a foreign perspective on US History and the different topics we are studying and I think it is nice for them to be able to share their culture with us.”
So far the students said they have enjoyed their stay in Coos Bay and are excited for the rest of the year.