Category Archives: Features

Home away from home: German student attends MHS to improve language and gain new experiences

picking-jenny-up-at-the-airportBy Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Jenny Ahlgrimm describes her hometown of Hamburg, Germany, as “ big, modern and busy.”

With a population of 1.7 million, it’s sure to be a bit different from Maryville, where she is living during the 2016-17 school year as an exchange student.

But calling it a bit different might be an understatement.

“Pretty much everything is different,” she said. “Maryville is small and peaceful. Everything is green. The climate and the sky are so different. The school is completely different and the activities you do after school. In the US, everyone drives everywhere, and in Germany, you walk or take public transit.”

‘it’s America!’
Experiencing all of these differences is one of the reasons Ahlgrimm decided to become an exchange student.

“(I wanted) to see what it is like to start over where you don’t know anybody,” she said, adding she wanted to improve her English and gain more experiences. “And it’s America!”

At home in Germany, she works as a lifeguard and swimming instructor and also babysits. She enjoys running, something she has been able to continue at Maryville High School where she was on the cross country team in the fall and plans to be a member of the track team this spring.

During her time in Missouri, she has enjoyed attending Kansas City Royals and Chiefs games, taking senior pictures, hanging out with new friends, kayaking and spending time with her host family, Paul and Cathy Rybolt and Dalylah and Shayleigh.

She’s also has fallen in love with Reese’s peanut butter cups and Sonic blue raspberry slushes with rainbow Nerds.

‘I am torn’
But Ahlgrimm said she misses things from home. German tap water, German chocolate, her family and friends and swimming.

And she’s faced a few challenges as well.

“The language barrier; I have a hard time coming up with the correct English word sometimes,” she said. “American History is extremely difficult if you are not American. I also had a hard time with the heat and humidity when I got here in July.”

She’s also had some interesting and humorous experiences since she’s arrived.

“Someone really asked me if we have electricity in Germany,” she said. “The answer is yes. Someone else said that being from Hamburg is not that special because it is only one hour away.”

And in case you were wondering… Hamburg, IA, is 60 miles from Maryville and Hamburg, Germany, is 4,567 miles from Maryville.

With all of her experiences – the good, the challenging and the odd – Ahlgrimm has mixed feelings but is grateful.

“I am torn,” she said. “Part of me can’t imagine living here a whole year, but the other part of me can’t imagine having to leave my family here.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

‘I was intrigued’
Cathy Rybolt said a friend suggested she look into it becoming a host family.

“I was intrigued,” she said, and after sharing the information with her husband, Paul, they decided to do it.

Paul is a student at Northwest and Cathy is the outreach director/MIS team leader at Community Services in Maryville. Dalylah is in fourth grade and Shayleigh is in third grade at Eugene Field.

“We have enjoyed sharing our love for the outdoors with Jenny,” she said. “Since she has been here we have been camping, boating and kayaking at Mozingo Lake. We also took her hiking at Indian Caves State Park.”

She said it’s been enlightening and educational for their family as well.

“In school you learn about different cultures but living with someone from another culture is very different,” she said. “Teenagers from different countries are most definitely not like American teens.”

Dalylah and Shayleigh are enjoying their time with Jenny and learning new things from her.

“I like having an older sister,” Dalylah said. “She has never had any siblings, so I am glad that I get to be her younger sibling.”

Shayleigh said: “I love my Sissy Jenny because she gave me a birthday present and she makes crafts with me. I like Jenny spending time with me and tickling me. She is teaching me German. We love her accent.”

And everyone loves that she shares her German chocolates with them.

    To learn more about becoming a host family or being an exchange student, visit ciee.org.

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Nothing screams summer like homemade ice cream

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The Summer of Pinterest, Part 6

By Jacki Wood, for the Nodaway News Leader

July is National Ice Cream Month. But no special designation is needed to know that summer is a perfect time for ice cream.

Growing up, from Memorial Day to Independence Day to Labor Day, my family enjoyed making homemade ice cream when we all got together. So ending this series with ice cream seemed appropriate.

My husband and kids helped me with these three recipes, Ice Cream in a Bag, Jell-O Sherbet and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

And bonus: you don’t need an ice cream maker for any of them.

Ice Cream in a Bag

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This idea combines fun and flavor. From the Growing a Jeweled Rose blog: “Kids love making ice cream in a bag because they can actually make the ice cream by running around.”

We’ve tried a slightly different variation before, Ice Cream in a Can, where you roll a can back and forth between two people. So we thought this would be fun. And it was.

Ingredients:
• 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream or half and half
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 6 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
• ice cubes

Directions:
Place the ingredients into a tightly sealed sandwich-sized bag, pressing the air out as you seal it. Place the bag into another tightly sealed sandwich bag. Fill a gallon-size bag half-way full of ice and mix with kosher salt. Then put the sealed sandwich-size bag into the larger bag and seal it. You can also double up the gallon-size bags as well, especially if you have little ones.
Then get moving. You need to shake the bag for about 5-10 minutes. You can run and play tag or toss the bag to each other. Or you can just stand and shake it.
Then enjoy. Eat it straight out of the bag or put it in a dish.

Jell-O Sherbet

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I’d never thought about making sherbet until I saw this from SmartSchoolHouse.com. I put Hannah in charge of this one and she really enjoyed making it. It’s very sweet but probably the best sherbet I’ve ever had. Just make sure the gelatin dissolves completely.

It calls for Junket ice cream mix, which I had never heard of, but found near the Jell-O section at the store. Also, we picked three flavors instead of four: Lemon, Berry Blue and Raspberry.

Ingredients:
• Junket Ice Cream Mix in Very Vanilla
• 1 1/4 C. whole milk
• 3/4 C. heavy whipping cream
• Jell-O: Berry Blue, Orange, Raspberry, Lime or whatever flavors you desire

Directions:
Place 4 glass bowls in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Combine the Junket Ice Cream Mix with the whole milk and heavy whipping cream. Stir until dissolved. Pour the mixture into a 9″ x 5″ pan and freeze until firm.
Once firm, break into chunks with a fork and put chunks into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Remove the 4 glass bowls from the freezer and evenly separate the vanilla ice cream into each of the bowls using a spatula. Put 1/2 Tbsp. of the different Jell-O flavors in each bowl, one flavor per bowl, and gently mix with a spoon until fully combined. Do this as fast as you can to prevent the ice cream from melting.
Put the 4 different ice cream flavors in a container that can be sealed.
Gently use the back of a spoon or spatula to connect the 4 different piles of ice cream so they freeze as 1 piece. Put the lid on and let it freeze for about 1-2 hours before eating.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

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For a healthier fare, this Strawberry Frozen Yogurt from the Feel Great in 8 blog is perfect. It’s simple, quick and good for you.

Ingredients:
• 4 C. frozen strawberries
• 3 Tbsp. honey
• 1/2 C. plain Greek yogurt
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Directions:
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may need to add more juice. Then scoop and enjoy.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page at pinterest.com/nodawaynews/summer-fun/.

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Pick out some new recipes perfect for summertime fun

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The Summer of Pinterest, Part 5

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Need some new recipes to spice up your summertime potluck or picnic fare? Our Good Eats page on Pinterest contains hundreds of ideas.

I picked three seasonal and flavorful new recipes that my two kids helped me with: Frozen Lemonade Pie, Crockpot BBQ Coca-Cola Pulled Pork and Corn, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Frozen Lemonade Pie

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It’s hot outside, you do not want to turn on the oven and you need a summertime dessert. Lemonade, anyone? How about frozen lemonade and pie. Mmm-mmm-mm.
This recipe comes from LoveBakesGoodCakes.com and my 17-year-old son, Hunter, helped me with this very easy-to-make tart and sweet treat.

Ingredients:
• 1 pre-made graham cracker crust
• 1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
• 1 – 12 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed
• 1 C. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
• Lemon slices, for garnish

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, fold the sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping until well combined, being careful to keep the mixture light and fluffy.
Add the lemonade concentrate and continue to gently fold. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Place in the freezer to chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, garnish with fresh lemon slices.

Crockpot BBQ Coca-Cola Pulled Pork

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Another trick to beat the summer heat is to utilize your crockpot and this twist on pulled pork is super easy with just three ingredients.

It comes from TheFrugalGirls.com and calls for Coca-Cola and BBQ sauce. We decided to try it with root beer and thought it was really good.

Ingredients:
• Pork Tenderloin, approx. 3 lbs.
• 1 – 18 oz. bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce
• 1 – 12 oz. can Coca-Cola
• option: 1/2 white onion, sliced

Directions:
If using sliced onions, first place on the bottom of the crockpot and then place pork tenderloin in the crockpot.
Mix together BBQ sauce and Coca-Cola in mixing bowl and stir well. Pour mixture over pork and cover crockpot.
Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until done.
Remove pork from crockpot and shred on cutting board using 2 forks. Serve on plates or buns and drizzle with extra leftover sauce from the crockpot to keep moist.

Corn, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

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This fresh, summer produce salad is simple to prepare and full of summer flavor. It comes from TheBlondCook.com and my 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, helped me with it.

We took it to a family reunion and it was a big hit with everyone.

Ingredients:
• 1 – 15.25 oz. can whole kernel corn, well drained
• 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
• 1 C. cucumber, peeled and diced
• 1 C. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
• 1/3 C. red onion, chopped
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
• 1/2 tsp. salt, more or less to taste
• 1/4 tsp. pepper, more or less to taste
• 1/4 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions:
Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to mingle before serving.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Good Eats” Pinterest page at pinterest.com/nodawaynews/good-eats.

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Keep the kids entertained with new summertime ideas

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 4 …

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By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

    School’s been out for over a month now and you’ve heard your kids say “I’m bored” about 2,581 times. Right?!

You could probably use some new and easy ideas to keep them entertained and enjoying their summer break.

We can help with over 400 ideas on our Summer Fun Pinterest page.

I don’t have any little ones at my house anymore, so I asked my 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, and my 12-year-old niece, Jaden, to help some of my younger nieces, Zoe, Ailey and Kaiya, and a cousin’s daughter, Daycee, with a couple of summer fun ideas: Spray Sidewalk Chalk and Glow-in-the-Dark Bubbles.

Both activities were fun and simple but both had some #PinterestFail elements to them.

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Spray Sidewalk Chalk

The idea for spray sidewalk chalk comes from GrowingAJeweledRose.com.

This mom of two writes: “liquid chalk makes a great spray paint for kids and is sure to keep them busy for a good, long time. The recipe is super easy, easily washes off of surfaces and the spray bottles are also great for fine motor development.”

Making the spray chalk was no problem and it easily washes off the sidewalk and other outdoor surfaces. Her recipe calls for food coloring or washable watercolors. She warned the food coloring may tinge clothing, so she advised to wear play clothes or use the washable watercolors.

Since we did this activity at a family reunion, I opted for the washable watercolors. The #PinterestFail part came because there wasn’t enough color added in each squirt bottle so their creations ended up looking all white. I think you need to add more than just a “few drops” if you choose the washable watercolors, like maybe 10 or even more drops.

I couldn’t find the watercolors locally so I ordered them on Amazon – Sargent Art Watercolor Magic which comes in a pack of 10 colors.

PinKidsChalk2

      Materials:

  • Spray bottles
  • Corn Starch
  • Baking soda
  • Food coloring or washable watercolors
  • Optional: if you want to make the spray chalk art erupt, you will also want a few squirt bottles of vinegar (we didn’t try this but it sounds fun).

      Directions:

Fill the spray bottles 1/3 of the way with a baking soda and corn starch mixture, using roughly equal amounts of both ingredients. Add a few drops of food coloring or washable watercolors and then fill the bottles with very warm water.

Use a butter knife to stir the mixture as best you can and then place the spray spouts on and shake the bottles really well.

You will want to shake the bottles once more just before play, as some of the corn starch will settle at the bottom of the bottle.

PinKidsBubbles1

Glow-in-the-Dark Bubbles

This seems like a very simple activity from TheIdeaRoom.net. And I think it could and should be. But we had a couple of problems.

When we went to break the glow sticks to pour the liquid into the bottles of bubbles, we realized the glow sticks we purchased had small glass vials inside the plastic tube. These were the only ones at our local Wal-Mart.

So in trying to break or cut the glass vials, we ended up with broken shards of glass everywhere. But we were still able to get the liquid into the bottles so it all worked out okay.

The bottles lit up with the glowing liquid which was fun to see on a summer’s night. However, when the girls blew, the bubbles themselves didn’t glow very much. But the girls had fun with their bright bottles, so all in all, it was a fun and successful activity. Next time, I’ll try to find different glow sticks to use.

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      Materials:

  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles

      Directions:

Break or cut open glow sticks. Pour contents into the bottle of bubbles. Shake well and have fun.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page including games, activities, treats and more. Visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/summer-fun/.

 


Put a little pop in your 4th of July celebration

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 3 …

PinterestLogo

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Need some new ideas for your Independence Day family get-together or neighborhood gathering? We’ve got you covered. The NNL Fourth of July Pinterest page has over 200 ideas to help you out.

We experimented with three ideas this week: Confetti Launchers, Firecracker Cookies and July 4th Layered Drinks. And did so pretty successfully.

4thLaunchers

Confetti Launchers

This simple idea comes from the Piikea Street blog, piikeastreet.com, as a kid-friendly, inexpensive alternative to real fireworks. They write: “No big bangs or smoke but still very cool.” I used patriotic paper but these would be fun for your kids to get creative with and do the decorating on their own.

      Materials:

  • toilet paper tubes
  • decorative paper or markers
  • 12” balloons
  • tape
  • paper
  • scissors

      Directions:

Cut some paper into confetti-sized squares and set aside.

Decorate your tubes anyway you like with paper or markers.

Cut a balloon in half and tie the end. Wrap the larger end of the balloon over one end of the tube and secure with tape. Try your best to keep the balloon taut but don’t bend it.

Take your poppers and confetti outside. Add a heavy pinch of confetti to the tube. Point it out, pull back the balloon end, let go and enjoy.

4thCookie

Firecracker Cookies

These cute sugar cookies come from MomDot.com and are sure to put a pop in your July 4th party … literally. You top these sugar cookies with pop rocks which pop in your mouth. She suggests topping with red pop rocks as well as a white sugar and blue gel mixture. To save time, I thought I would top them with both red and blue pop rocks and omit the blue sugar. I purchased red and blue packages of pop rocks; however, the blue, which was tropical punch flavored, ended up looking more green than blue. So I’d go the blue sugar route.

      Ingredients:

  • your favorite sugar cookie recipe or pre-made refrigerated cookie dough
  • butter cream or white frosting
  • 2 packs of red pop rocks
  • white sugar and blue gel paste

      Directions:

Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe and frost after they have cooled. Create blue sugar by adding sugar and blue gel paste into a blender and turn on for 30 seconds. Sprinkle sugar on frosting and then sprinkle pop rocks on cookies. You will hear them crackle as they hit the frosting. If you’re not going to be serving them right away, you might want to wait to top with the pop rocks.

4thDrinks

July 4th Layered Drinks

These non-alcoholic drinks are fun and perfect for your family or neighborhood gathering. They come from InKatrinasKitchen.com.

She says “you can layer the drinks in any way you like but the secret is in the sugar content. The other secret to success with layered drinks is plenty of ice.”

We had to play around with them some as we got too much cranapple juice in one and not enough in another. Despite those minor issues, they looked fun and tasted good, too.

      Ingredients:

  • 1 C. red cranapple juice
  • 1 C. white Sobe piña colada drink
  • 1 C. blue G2 Gatorade
  • ice

      Directions:

Fill your glass 1/3 of the way full with cranapple juice.

Then fill to the top with ice.

Slowly, pour the second layer directly on top of an ice cube. Then repeat with the third layer.

Note: you must pour slowly and directly over the ice for it to work.

Additional ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Fourth of July” Pinterest page including decorations, treats, crafts for the kids, games and more. Visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/fourth-of-july.

 


Put a twist on your s’mores this summer

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 2 …

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By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

    S’mores scream summer yum and fun, sitting around a campfire, enjoying the stars and lightning bugs.

But there’s more you can do with your graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows. Pinterest is full of ideas for variations on s’mores, especially when you’re not near a campfire or fire pit and still have a craving for that favorite summer treat.

My 17-year-old son, Hunter, who loves to cook and bake, helped me with these s’mores ideas.

PinterestSmores2

S’mores in a Jar

This idea came from OliviasCuisine.com. She writes: “My favorite thing about making S’mores in a Jar is that they are portable.”

They are made indoors but can be enjoyed anywhere and her recipe goes a bit beyond normal s’mores because she utilizes a simple ganache.

She used half-pint jars but we had some extra pint jars from last week’s projects so Hunter doubled it and did two layers instead of just one; a little different than hers but they turned out great. I loved that these could be eaten with a spoon and not the mess. And the ganache was a fun twist.

      Ingredients:

  • 4 chocolate bars, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. marshmallow creme
  • 16 graham cracker squares
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • mini marshmallows for topping
  • 4 half-pint jars

Instructions:

In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until bubbles start to form on the side, about two minutes.

Add the chopped chocolate to a medium-sized bowl and pour the hot heavy cream on top. Let it sit for a minute and then whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Process the graham crackers until finely crumbed. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.

To assemble, start by adding 1/4 of the graham cracker mixture to the bottom of the jars. Then add 1/4 of the marshmallow creme, 1/4 of the ganache and finish off by topping with marshmallows.

Using a cooking torch, toast the marshmallows until browned. Or, you can line the marshmallows in a baking sheet and put them under the broiler until toasted.

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Baked S’mores Bars

This is another twist that can be made indoors. It comes from RachelSchultz.com. It’s one we’ve actually been making for a couple of years now because I’m not really a fan of traditional s’mores. I don’t like that the chocolate never melts enough and the marshmallows never turn out perfectly when we roast them. So this recipe satisfies those things for me. It’s melted chocolate and marshmallow bliss. No #PinterestFail with this one.

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      Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 1/3 C. flour
  • 3/4 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
  • 1 and 1/2 C. marshmallow creme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, stir flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture. Press half of dough into a greased 9×9 pan. Set chocolate bars on top. Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate and top with remaining dough.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Don’t worry if the marshmallow oozes out the top. Makes 9 bars.

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S’mores Campfire Cones

This s’mores twist from FrugalCouponLiving.com is fun and easy, whether you’re camping in the woods or just grilling in your backyard.

I maybe got a little too confident with my no #PinterestFail comment above after our recent successes because we had a couple of problems with this one. Now that we know what we did wrong, though, a little tweaking should improve them.

Hunter layered the marshmallows and chocolate chips so that when it melted, all of the melted marshmallow was together in a clump, either at the top or the bottom of the cone, and all of the melted chocolate was together. We decided it would be good to mix the marshmallows and chocolate chips together in a bowl and then add them to the cone that way. Parts of the cone also got a bit charred so we would recommend the lower amount of time and put them back on the grill or campfire if longer is needed.

      Ingredients:

  • 12 sugar or waffle cones
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • optional: butterscotch chips or any other flavor (we also tried peanut butter with the chocolate)

Instructions:

Fill each cone with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Wrap in aluminum foil.

Heat on the grill or campfire for 7 to 10 minutes (also works in the oven). Keep away from direct flames.

Be careful as contents may be hot. Unwrap and enjoy.

Additional s’mores ideas can be found on the NNL’s “Summer Fun” Pinterest page including s’mores brownies, cheesecake, cheese ball, parfait, cobbler, snack mix and even fried s’mores.

For these and other ideas for the summer, visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/summer-fun.

 


Get crafty with simple mason jar projects

The Summer of Pinterest, Part 1 …

PinterestLogo

By Jacki Wood for the Nodaway News Leader

Have you ever tried a project, idea or recipe you found on Pinterest … and it didn’t come out quite like you’d hoped?

You’re not alone.

Branded as the world’s catalog of ideas, Pinterest users can “pin” ideas to try, but many find themselves disappointed at the end result.

There’s even an entire Pinterest Fail website, “where good intentions come to die,” devoted to Pinterest lovers who have shared projects that failed. And there are plenty of posts all across social media of hilarious failures.

So we thought it would be fun to do a little experimenting of our own this summer. And I convinced (forced) my family to help me out.

I’ve been pinning ideas on Pinterest for about five years now and have tried well over 100 recipes as well as ideas for home improvement, family reunions, hairstyles and even road trips.

This series will focus on several different ideas perfect for the summertime for you and your family. And we’ll see if they actually turn out perfectly. Or if we need to add it to the Pinterest Fail website.

We’re starting with a pretty ordinary object that can be transformed into a ton of different ideas for every corner of your home and summertime activity – mason jars.

My 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, helped me pick out two mason jar projects from the NNL’s So Crafty Pinterest board. We thought the Mason Jar Fairy Lights and the Mason Jar Citronella Candles would be fun to have when she has friends over for a summer party.

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Mason Jar Fairy Lights

This idea came from the DIY Joy website. It was very simple and easy to follow with both a how-to video as well as step-by-step written instructions with photos.

The website says: “this cool glow in the dark craft is a neat project idea for kids and teens. These fairy glow jars are fun for after-dark outdoors ideas but they also make great DIY home decor for kids rooms or dorm decor.”

      Materials:

  • Mason Jar (any clean jar will do)
  • Glow in the Dark Paint (use several different colors)
  • Paintbrushes (preferably longer ones that reach to the bottom of the jar)
  • Scrap Paper
  • White School Glue (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)

Hannah had no trouble with this project at all. It was quick and easy and she was pleased with how they turned out. And it was relatively inexpensive, especially if you have old jars lying around.

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Mason Jar Citronella Candles

This idea came from MartysMusings.net. It was also very simple with step-by-step instructions and photos. And it provides a very cheap alternative to keep the mosquitoes away this summer.

      Materials:

  • Mason Jar (or any glass jar) with lid and ring
  • Citronella Torch Fuel
  • 1/8″ Lamp Wicks
  • Nail Punch, Screwdriver or a Nail and Hammer

This was also very quick and easy for Hannah. Our local Wal-Mart didn’t have the lamp wicks so we purchased thick twine as well as tiki torch wicks to try. The torch wicks were too big, especially for pint jars. And even the twine was perhaps a bit too big. On a windy day, the flame got a little big. But as long as it’s not left unattended, I think it would be fine.

Additional mason jar ideas can be found on the NNL’s “So Crafty” Pinterest page including bird feeders, soap dispensers, home decor, gifts in a jar and much more.

For these and other crafty ideas, visit pinterest.com/nodawaynews/so-crafty.

 


Australian exchange student finds unexpected success at Nodaway-Holt

By Jacki Wood, written for the Nodaway News Leader

NaliSmilesWhen Nali Tattersall arrived in Missouri in January, the 17-year-old exchange student had never participated in track and field, never attempted the high jump nor the long jump, never even seen how to do the triple jump.

Now, the Nodaway-Holt junior from Darwin, Australia, will be competing at state this weekend after qualifying in all three events at sectionals.

“(I) feel overwhelmed to receive all the attention,” Tattersall said. “I enjoy seeing everyone’s athletic ability and getting to meet others I compete with and build relationships with them.

“I’m also excited to be able to help my team with points and hopefully continue this journey as far as I can.”

Tattersall’s host family, Erick and Heather Thornton and their son, Derick, have enjoyed watching him compete.

“He is a natural to jumping events, and having never done it before, we didn’t expect him to be doing so well,” Heather said. “It’s been great to celebrate with him each time he sets a new personal record or see his face light up when he gets another trophy or medal.”

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Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory of Australia and has a population of 136,000.

Tattersall said while the language is the same and western culture is shared, there are several differences between his home country and the US.

“We drive on different sides of the road and (there are) changes in climate. Here it gets really cold and I’m used to it being hot year round,” he said.

The food is also different.

“Americans have so many choices,” he said. “There are so many different kinds of snacks and restaurants in the states. In Australia, we don’t have free refills and very few candy bars. I love trying it all.

“I do miss vegemite, though.”

Vegemite is a popular spread for sandwiches, toast and crackers in Australia. It’s dark brown, tastes salty and slightly bitter and is made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract with vegetable and spice additives.

Tattersall has also found that school is somewhat different.

“There are no sports in schools in Australia and here there is something to do all year,” he said.

Nodaway-Holt

The students at Nodaway-Holt, however, are mostly the same as those in Australia.

“(They) like similar things such as hanging out on the weekends, playing video games and they like to fish and hunt,” Tattersall said.

Sarcasm has been a bit of a challenge for him, he said, understanding when it’s being used and what is meant by it. But he is really enjoying his time at Nodaway-Holt especially participating in athletics and making new friends.

“My school is amazing,” he said. “And I’ve built so many friendships that will last a lifetime.”

That includes his host family.

“I have been placed with an awesome host family who are very supportive and keep my family in Australia involved with pictures and videos on Facebook,” he said.

Heather said they are grateful for the opportunity to have him in their home.

“He is a great kid, very funny and easy going, polite and enjoys interacting with others,” she said. “He has taught us many things about his culture and answers your questions, even if it’s the 500th time he had answered it. Watching him experience new things is a joy.

“We are grateful for the experience and know he will be a part of our family for many years.”

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Track

While there were no athletics offered at school in Australia, Tattersall did play basketball in what would be equivalent to a YMCA or community center league.

In addition to track and field, he participated in part of the basketball season at Nodaway-Holt after he arrived, and because he will be here until November, he plans to also play football in the fall.

Before Tattersall arrived in Missouri, a few students had shown Coach Josh Petersen video clips of him dunking a basketball from right inside the free throw line.

“When he started school here, I think it was his first or second day of basketball practice, I asked to see him dunk it,” Petersen said. “And I was just amazed at how high he could jump.”

So when track season rolled around, Petersen said he couldn’t wait to see how well he could or would do in the jumping events.

“Long jump and high jump weren’t really an issue but I was curious to see how he would do in triple jump,” he said. “The day before our first meet, I showed him the technique. And after seeing the look on his face and him saying ‘far out’ in that Australian accent of his, I figured he would like it.”

Not only did he like it, he excelled at it.

The day after learning how to triple jump, Tattersall participated in his first meet and jumped around 38 feet. Now, he’s jumping nearly 43 feet.

His long jump started at around 18 feet and now he’s jumping 20’2”.

In high jump, Petersen said he was stuck on 6’2” for awhile but he eventually got 6’4” at the Mound City meet which is his best and a Nodaway-Holt school record.

He was also a part of the 4×200-meter relay team, which Petersen said fared pretty well in every meet.

“Nali has been a very big part in the success of our track team this year,” Petersen said. “We only had six guys out and he was usually first or second in every event he was in. He has been our high point guy in every track meet, usually scoring 26 to 30 points by himself.

“I have really enjoyed watching him do his events and couldn’t have asked for a better person to coach in my first year. It’s been exciting to watch him perform.”

With his unexpected success, Tattersall is now considering the sport as a potential part of his future.

“Participating in track at the collegiate level is not a possibility (at home); they don’t have sports in college there,” he said. “I could continue track in Australia, however, it would be very limited and difficult.”

So after he finishes high school, he said he will consider returning to the US to further his education and participate in track while doing so.

“This has been amazing,” Tattersall said, “and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

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Hunter’s story

By Jacki Wood ~ written for a college assignment in 2010

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Tears roll down his cheeks like steady raindrops sliding down a window during a spring thunderstorm.

“I HATE YOU, DAD, I HATE YOU,” he yells from behind his closed bedroom door.

Hunter’s tears mix with the mess on his face and he wipes it with his shirtsleeve, leaving streaks of it across his cheek. He coughs and lets out one last wail before trying to compose himself.

He sniffs hard, wipes his face again and licks his dry lips.

“Mom,” he whimpers, knowing I’m standing outside his door. “Can I come out now?”

~

This is not a toddler temper tantrum. This is the winding down after a rage, after the shoving of his sister, the throwing of furniture, the growling and yelling and screaming and flailing.

This is 11-year-old Hunter who lives with bipolar disorder, one of an estimated 10 percent of children who deal with serious emotional and mental disorders, according to the US Surgeon General.

~

Bipolar is a brain disorder that causes unusual changes in mood, from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, and can also be known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression.

In children, it is sometimes confused with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder because of the many similar symptoms when they are manic, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness. The difference, though, includes elated mood, grandiose behaviors, flight of ideas, extreme changes in behavior and energy levels and decreased need for sleep. Then there is the depressive and even suicidal opposite side of the disorder.

During mania, children and teens can “feel very happy or act silly in a way that’s unusual, have a very short temper, talk really fast about a lot of different things, have trouble sleeping but not feel tired, have trouble staying focused, talk and think about sex more often and do risky things.”

During depressive episodes, they can “feel very sad, complain about pain a lot, sleep too little or too much, feel guilty and worthless, eat too little or too much, have little energy and no interest in fun activities and think about death or suicide.”

Other symptoms can include impulsive behavior, psychotic symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and cognitive disturbances.

~

Mere minutes from his raging, things seem to have changed inside Hunter’s brain as I sit with him on his bedroom floor. He’s laughing, smiling and showing the dimple that dots his right cheek as he describes his latest car design to me. His fiery red hair seems a softer orange now. He drags out a sketch pad with curled edges and begins drawing.

And just like that, all seems to be well again.

At least for a few moments.

~

One of the biggest differences between children and adults with bipolar disorder is that an adult can go for weeks or months before they cycle from high to low or vice versa. With children, though, they can have multiple cycles during a single day. It’s really a roller coaster of emotions on a daily basis, from giddy highs down to depressive lows. Children and teens with bipolar disorder may also have mixed episodes that have both manic and depressive symptoms.

In the past several years, I’ve done plenty of reading and studying up on the illness, trying to figure out how best to raise Hunter and how to teach him to deal with it all. Most of the time I feel lucky that his symptoms aren’t as serious as others who I read about. Still, as he grows and gets older, I’m concerned how the illness will change and affect him in other more serious ways.

“My brain works differently than other people’s brains,” Hunter said. “Sometimes I go all crazy.”

Crazy, for Hunter, means he feels mad, sad, scared and even sometimes confused.

And then there’s the opposite of those feelings.

“Sometimes when I feel good, I think I can do anything,” he said.

That translates into him feeling that sometimes he is smarter than his teacher at school or his classmates, who don’t like it when he gets overly excited or yells out all the answers in class. It can also mean that he feels he knows better or more than his parents.

That’s not all that different than other kids, but it can be a little more difficult with him because of the other symptoms he experiences.

~

A couple of hours have passed since Hunter’s blowup with his dad. He is still in his room but has moved from drawing the car to building it using K’nex that litter his carpeted floor. The incident that led to him screaming his hatred toward his dad was about one of his Saturday chores – vacuuming the family room floor.

Saturdays are tough for Hunter. After breakfast, the chores begin. On his list for the day was to clean his bedroom, put his clean clothes away, clean the upstairs bathroom and vacuum the family room floor.

A reasonable amount of time for his younger sister to do the same chores is usually two hours or less.

But Hunter says he hates to work and drags it out nearly the entire day, even though he has been reminded that once his chores are completed he can do whatever he likes until bedtime.

“I don’t really like to do work,” he said. “I just want to get it done, but most of the time I don’t want to do it all.”

His seven-year-old sister completes her comparable chores well before lunchtime and is off to ride her bike and play outside with the dog.

By 11:30, Hunter has yet to complete even one of the tasks. He’s in the family room now, where he should be vacuuming. But instead of the cleaning, he’s sprawled out on the floor flipping through a car magazine, completely enthralled.

He goes all out for the things he enjoys and I love that about him. But I also believe he needs to learn the value of work, regardless of his illness.

His dad enters the room and quietly reminds him of his chores.

Hunter begins with whining and complaining about all the work he has to do. Then he starts looking for excuses. He’s hungry. He’s tired. His foot hurts. He’s thirsty. His head hurts.

He soon moves to crying. Then screaming. Then all-out raging returns. And finally, his dad must drag him off to his room so he can calm down and not hurt anything or anyone else.

~

“I told my dad I hate him because I didn’t like him when I was really angry,” Hunter said. “I don’t want to cry, but sometimes I feel like I can’t control it.”

The crying comes with the lows but can change without notice to euphoric highs. And when the mania hits, so do the ideas and the feeling he can do or be anything.

“I have lots of ideas of things I want to do,” he said, talking about his future. “I am excited when I feel good. I want to be an inventor or an engineer or an architect or a chef.”

He wants to build the biggest mall in the world. He wants to design the fastest racecar. He wants to own the best bakery in the country.

Everything is a superlative with him. It has to be the biggest or the fastest or the best.

While many of his classmates are busy playing video games, watching TV, playing sports or hanging out with each other, Hunter is setting goals, making plans and creating new ideas to help people and change the world.

Those grandiose ideas are typical of others with bipolar. The goals and ideas aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but not being able to accomplish them all, right now and with great success, is a difficult concept for Hunter to grasp. He wants it all. And he wants it all right now.

~

The dichotomy of the disorder seems to be seen in all aspects of his life, especially at school, where he attends Tri-County in Jamesport.

He likes math and excels in it, his fifth grade teacher Connie Critten said, although his grade card doesn’t always show it.

“Hunter has very good mental math skills and enjoys helping other students who are struggling with math,” she said. “He is usually patient with his classmates while helping them. But he doesn’t like doing homework and his scores are generally lower because he doesn’t finish his work.”

While receiving the highest MAP test in math in his class, his grades are consistently Cs in the subject.

“I don’t like doing homework,” he said, “because I don’t like work.”

We’ve tried many different ideas to help with this – things we’ve read from other parents and things from both his school counselor and his clinical counselor – without a whole lot of success.

More serious than his academic performance, however, is the way the disorder affects his behavior at school.

When Hunter is at his best, he is compassionate, caring and has a positive and uplifting attitude, his resource room instructor Debbie LaFerney said.

“He has a contagious smile and loves to please his peers,” she said. “Hunter knows where he wants to be in the future with his behavior, with school and with his career. He has a creative and imaginative mind and is always thinking about some invention he is going to work on.”

But being at his best – kind, imaginative, helpful – can change quickly, his school counselor LeAnna Wilcox said. He can be happy one minute and crying or in a rage the next.

“His mood swings could be associated with a ticking time bomb; you never know when they are going to go off,” she said. “When he gets upset, he tends to totally shut down. He becomes agitated and logic does not take place.”

Whatever the reason, his explosions disrupt the classroom and sometimes even the school.

“Hunter sometimes becomes very aggressive, throwing chairs, yelling or pushing other students,” Critten said. “He has been known to cause physical harm to others. And his crying can disrupt our classroom and the entire elementary building.”

He also appears to have a high anxiety level most of the time, she said, because he has so many goals he wants to achieve.

“He is afraid he will mess up or that his peers are looking at him and judging him,” she said. “Then he has an outburst as a way of protecting himself.”

~

Hunter walks out of his bedroom, the red blotches that dotted his face from his excessive crying have begun to disappear and his orange freckles shine once again. I offer him a hug and he presents both his newly constructed car and the drawing from his book.

And then as if nothing has happened, he begins telling me about his latest idea of making a more fuel-efficient car.

~

As bad as it was on this particular Saturday morning, it has been much worse.

We feel fortunate to have found help in recent years through the North Central Missouri Mental Health Center in Trenton where Hunter has received new medications, counseling and support.

He currently takes three mood stabilizer prescription drugs: Abilify, which he has been on since he was first diagnosed, Strattera and Lamictal.

“I don’t like to take my medicine,” Hunter said. “But my mom keeps telling me it helps me be better.”

In addition to the medication, he visits a psychiatrist every three months, meets with a clinical counselor each month and receives visits from a caseworker both at home and at school.

~

Hunter’s eyes light up as he describes the components of his new car idea. His words fly out of his mouth, one right after the other, faster than I can keep up with. I smile and sigh to myself. So many ideas – too many ideas. Hunter copies my gentle smile with a wide, toothy genuine grin of his own.

When he has finished explaining the idea, he shrugs, a little embarrassed and then waits, seeking approval. I reach out and give him that approval with another hug and smile.

I think it’s time to apologize to dad, I whisper to him.

Hesitant, he plops his car and sketch pad on his desk of overflowing ideas, papers, pads, cars and creations. He strolls out of the room, head down, and quietly calls out for his dad who is in the kitchen.

~

“Did you finish vacuuming the family room,” his dad asks, after Hunter had apologized for his actions.

“Yes,” he lies, with a blank stare on his face, trying not to make any moves to show his deceit.

It doesn’t matter. We all know he’s lying. Lately, most everything coming out of his mouth seems to be a lie. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but we’re tired and we don’t know what to do about it. There’s other deceitful behavior, like sneaking food from the kitchen during the night and stealing money from my wallet.

Consequences don’t seem to matter much to Hunter. And logic is lost on him most of the time.

There are so many facets to bipolar, and it seems when we figure out how to deal with one thing, something else pops up.

The lying is also something his caseworker Terri Westover has seen with Hunter when she visits him at school.

“One of the main things I’ve noticed lately about Hunter is his easiness in not being truthful,” she said. “I always talk to teachers before or after I talk to him about whatever the current incident is and the stories are usually quite different. Part of it is probably him minimalizing what actually took place. I don’t think he’s necessarily being conniving with his untruthfulness, but it keeps him in an alternate reality. He gets quite angry when confronted, but that’s what we’ve been working on at school and at home, bringing him back to reality.”

~

Hunter sulks back to the family room, this time without the dramatics. He seems to be too exhausted for another outburst. He grabs the vacuum, turns it on and roughly and quickly pushes it back and forth around the couch, TV and the magazine that’s still lying wide open on the floor. A few toys also dot the floor, some of which he threw in his earlier anger. There’s also the chair he knocked over in his rage.

I walk in and sit on the couch. He turns off the vacuum when he sees me. I encourage him, telling him I know he can do it and do it well. His dimple resurfaces with his smile as he picks up the toys, the magazine and the chair – and he finishes the vacuuming.

He really is a great kid, but it’s so hard to know if what we are doing is right with him or for him. It’s also hard because it feels like a lot of people don’t see the good in him with his dramatic changes in mood. I feel a lot of judgmental stares from others who get annoyed by his behavior, like I’m being a bad parent or no parent at all. We’ve made lots of mistakes with him, but it’s really frustrating when others don’t give him a chance or enough time to show who he is when he’s at his best.

So we just keep taking one day at a time. Some days are good, some are more of a struggle.

But even with the struggles and the mistakes, we feel like we’ve come a long way since he was first diagnosed.

“It’s difficult for me to describe the difference between the past couple of years and how it was in the beginning,” his dad says. “It’s like night and day.”

~

While Hunter knows bipolar disorder is something that will affect him his entire life, he is grateful for the help he is receiving.

“I’m a little afraid of my future because of bipolar,” he said. “But I know my family loves me even when my brain is crazy.”

(note from 2015: while we were blessed with wonderful mental healthcare resources and services when we lived near Jamesport back in 2010, we haven’t been so lucky where we live now. Due to the lack of resources here, we’ve had to make some major changes in dealing with Hunter’s illness. So we face new challenges while we continue to take one day at a time with him. Lack of adequate mental healthcare services affects thousands of people across the country. I encourage you to contact your legislator in support of mental healthcare and not be afraid to talk about mental illness.)


Working Abroad: MHS grad teaches in France to further education

Written for the Nodaway News Leader By Jacki Wood

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“Je suis Charlie” helped unite a country and the world following the January 7 attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices in France.

And a Maryville High graduate felt its effects much closer as she is currently a teaching assistant there.

Ruth Boettner has seen “Je suis Charlie” signs throughout Clermont-Ferrand, the city where she is working. The phrase, which means “I am Charlie,” was first seen on social media as a way to support freedom of speech and the victims of the attack. The movement has grown with marches throughout France and around the world.

“It’s truly a sad, terrible thing that’s happened,” she said. “The saddest part for the assistants in Clermont is that one of the victims, Michel Renaud, is from Clermont-Ferrand. His daughter is a student here.”

She said it’s always sad when people and organizations are targeted for the viewpoints they express.

“It’s felt even more when you are just a few degrees of separation away from someone who was killed,” she said.

***

Boettner was born in the Philippines but grew up in Maryville, the daughter of Richard and Bing Boettner. She graduated from MHS in 2009 and then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she had majors in French and global studies and minors in African studies and music.

Her background in French began during her sophomore year at Maryville High when she started studying the language. She also took a trip to France after her senior year with her classmates and their teacher, Linda Ferris.

“I thought maybe I’d minor in French when I went to UNL at the most, but I quickly realized how much I loved the language,” she said. “After one semester, I realized I liked the French curriculum (and) decided to be a French major.

“It really helped me with my global studies and African studies curriculum but especially my honors thesis, as I spent a lot of time translating primary source documents from French to English.”

She participated in a Study Abroad program in France at the Université de Caen Basse-Normandie in 2012.

“While at Caen, I more or less studied French as a foreign language,” she said. “It was really what pushed me over the hump in terms of learning the language. You don’t really know how well you know it until you actually have to speak it every day.”

Altogether, Boettner has spent about eight years learning French and considered herself nearly fluent. When she graduated from UNL in May 2014 and another opportunity to continue her education fell through, she applied for the Teaching Assistant Program. She said she hopes to finally attain that fluency through this opportunity.

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***

While continuing to learn the French language is a large part of why she is in France, her education is going far beyond as she is learning more about the world around her.

“There have been multiple anti-Muslim attacks throughout France since the Charlie Hebdo attack,” she said. “Of course, they may not all be directly related. Still, I worry about how this will affect France’s relationships with its Muslim citizens and residents.”

***

Ruth Boettner applied for the Teaching Assistant Program in France last January to continue her education.

“I really wanted to go back to France,” she said. “And I worked with kids all through college and loved it, so it just made sense.”

Boettner received notification in April that she had been hired to teach in Clermont-Ferrand, and after graduating in May from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she began preparing for her return to France.

Her teaching contract is from October 1 to April 30 but she arrived in mid-September and plans to stay through the latter part of May so she can do some extra traveling before returning home.

Before she left for France last fall, she said her goals included finally becoming fluent in French, traveling and enjoying the opportunity to return to the country.

“I only spent about three months in France when I studied abroad,” she said. “And now I’m hungry for more, I suppose you could say.”

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She continued: “I love working with elementary-aged kids, watching them learn and grow, and I hope I can do that for my future students.”

***

Boettner has been teaching in France for roughly three months now and said it has been going really well.

“I had a little trouble getting into the swing of things when I first started out,” she said. “I’ve worked with kids in after-school programs and summer camps for several years before this, but teaching solo in a classroom setting is really a different ball game.”

She said her biggest struggle was starting with things that were too difficult too quickly.

“It takes time, of course,” she said. “You get a grasp on where each individual class is in their learning and how they learn best and you go from there.”

Boettner works two days a week – at one school on Tuesdays where she teaches six classes and at another on Fridays where she teaches three.

“The students at my Friday school are in a specialized English program in which they have English classes four days a week, so they’re more advanced than my Tuesday students,” she said.

Boettner said her favorite part of teaching has been watching the students succeed.

“When my students get so much joy from their little victories,” she said, “it’s great to see that kind of excitement from learning.”

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One of her favorite experiences has been with a Thanksgiving lesson she gave, where she made big hand-shaped turkeys for each class. She asked the students what they were thankful for and then wrote those things on the turkey.

“They would usually give me the French word and I would write the English word next to it,” she said. “A few of them even said ‘We are thankful for Ruth’ and for their English lessons. I was feeling particularly homesick that week so it definitely cheered me up.”

The rest of her work time is spent fulfilling duties for the conseillers pédagogiques, who are the people who train the teaching assistants and new teachers.

So far, she has translated training documents and recorded her voice for use as a teaching tool for them. She, of course, also spends a few hours a week planning lessons and said she may begin a weekly English discussion group for volunteer teachers.

***

Outside of her work commitments, Boettner said she has enjoyed getting to know the other language assistants and exploring the city.

“The region is absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I feel really lucky regarding where I am and the people I’m sharing this whole experience with.”

She also spends her free time studying for the GRE and applying to graduate schools, which she hopes to begin following this teaching assistance opportunity.

“Fingers crossed, I’ll be entering a doctoral program in African history,” she said. “I’ll still be using my French. I’m planning on focusing on French-speaking African countries in my future research.”