This Article was published in Cecil Whig on 6/21/2010
By Rebecca Sewald
One of Ron Erickson’s favorite childhood experiences was the time his parents opened up their home to a foreign exchange student from Colombia…. See More
“We developed a lifelong friendship,” said the Port Deposit resident, explaining that they have stayed in contact for more than 30 years.
This summer, Ron and his wife, Vickie, are doing their part to see that other local families have an opportunity to share a similar experience. After hosting two exchange students last year, the couple became group coordinators for Global Friendships, a company that offers opportunities for international students to travel to the United States and live with American families as they learn about U.S. culture.
Over the past few months, the Ericksons have been working to find host families for 30 Spanish exchange students who will be spending a portion of the summer in Cecil County. The group of students, who range in age from 13 to 17, will arrive on June 30 and live with their host families until late-July, when they will return to Spain.
Orsolya Herbein, 33, of Conowingo and her husband, 28-year-old Kyle Herbein, are among those who will be hosting a student this summer.
“I have so much more than I need to live. I didn’t think it would be a big deal to open up our home to an exchange student,” Orsolya said.
She and her husband hosted an exchange student last summer and are looking forward to welcoming their new student, Sergi.
“It’s a very good experience,” Orsolya said. “It’s very interesting to hear about their culture and how they live.”
Though neither she nor her husband speak Spanish, they are not concerned about the language barrier. Each of the students who will be visiting this summer speak English.
“They know English, but their sentence structure might be a little backward. This trip will help them improve on their conversational English and learn American customs,” he said.
To assist them in the learning process, a portion of the students will be attending English classes at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church in Colora multiple days a week. The classes will feature hands-on activities like baking cookies from a recipe written in English and field trips to places like Pizza Hut, where they’ll interact with staff members to make their own pizzas.
In addition to the classes, students will also visit numerous attractions throughout the region. A full-day activity and a half-day activity is planned for each week of the visit. Among them are trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Hershey Park and New York. The students will also attend an Aberdeen Ironbirds baseball game, tour the Herr’s Snack Factory and go shopping at a nearby mall.
Saturdays and Sundays are reserved as free time for students to spend with their host families. Orsolya said her husband is looking forward to taking Sergi fishing. They’re also planning a birthday celebration for him in July.
Chuck Solomon, 66, of Conowingo, is instead planning to invite his exchange student, Maria, to go golfing with him, while his wife, 62-year-old Sherry Solomon, plans to take her country line dancing.
Maria will be the couple’s first foreign exchange student.“We have five grandchildren, and we thought it might be a good way to provide them with a different perspective from someone from a different country. Maybe they will appreciate more of what we have,” Chuck said.