Tag Archives: exchange student

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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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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