Eight exchange students attending Truman and William Chrisman high schools through Independence chapter of AFS-USA introduced themselves to the City Council during Monday’s study session.
The six girls and two boys spoke briefly of their families overseas, their host families and what they’ve enjoyed about their experience in Independence and the United States, and also thanked the council for the city’s support of AFS. Several of them said they’ve enjoyed school because of the extra-curricular opportunities, whereas in their home countries such activities often are separate clubs not affiliated with schools.
Mana Kanaizumi talked of her love for her host family, Chrisman teachers Kelly and John Straub.
“They always make me happy even when I have a bad day,” she said, adding that she’s been involved in cross country, swimming and track and field. “I didn’t like sports before I came here, but my host sister likes sports and she’s very athletic.”
Kanaizumi said she now is considering becoming an English teacher in Japan.
Laura Binz, from Cordast, Fribourg, Switzerland (host family: Karen and Fred Barden), said she has participated in cross country and swimming at Truman and now is in track and field.
Moemi Matsumoto, Tama-shi Japan (Desiree and Nick Martin), said she’s in the theater club at Chrisman. “It’s very fun. This experience will be big for my future.”
Lea Luznik, St. Katharein an der Laming, Austria (Ellene Laughlin), said she does tennis and mountain biking back home and is running track at Chrisman. Upon returning to Austria she’ll finish her engineering studies at a technical school.
Tommaso Amici, Torino, Italy (Tiffany and Ken Jarnigan) said he’s been involved in student government and soccer at Chrisman.
Hisayoshi Toda, Okazaki-shi, Japan (Amanda and Ric Bradford), made obvious the fact he’s taking a parenting class at Chrisman when he walked to the podium faithfully holding his doll baby.
“My family wanted me to come here,” he said. “It’s been good for me, a good experience.”
Greta Meyer, Osnabruck, Germany (Pam and Whitney Huff), played basketball back home and at Truman and said she also tried her hand at volleyball. Meyer said she could eventually take over the hotel her dad runs in Germany and apparently will be leaving the U.S. as a hockey fan.
“Thank you for the Mavericks games,” she said.
Denise Schmerse, Wolfenbuttel, Germany (Pam Cawthon) also is attending Truman.
Four others attending Independence schools were not at Monday’s meeting. Emily Shinoda, Setagaya-ku, Japan (host family: Julie and Ron Gage), Frederik Laursen, Allenroed, Denmark (Amy and Mike Adamson) and Mathias Solberg, Gamle Fredrikstaed, Norway (Susan Watkins) are attending Fort Osage High School. Angela Govoni, Modena, Italy (Sharon and Bryan Wood) is attending Truman.
Timotej Urban, Piestany, Slovakia, was at Truman on a semester program and stayed with the Huffs before he returned home in January.
Don Coffman of the AFS said that since the Independence chapter’s inception in 1959, it has hosted 363 foreign exchange students.
“Most of them have ongoing relationships with their hosts,” he said, “and some have even returned and visited their host families.”