Going to a new school can be a difficult transition for a 17-year-old student, especially if that student is coming to the United States from Nordenham -- a small town in Germany. Louisa Goerries signed on to become an exchange student in 2012. She stays here in Streetsboro with George and Kathy Betley and their daughter, Emily.
Emily always wanted a sister. When she and her mother attended the Streetsboro High School freshman orientation, they learned about the opportunity to be a host family to an exchange student. Emily subsequently asked her mother if they could give it a try. The family agreed.
Louisa battled homesickness during her first few weeks in town, then she immersed herself in student life at Streetsboro High School, joining the girls soccer team and the Rocket Rowdies. Louisa enjoys the school system here, but says that it is very different from what she is used to. Back in Germany, their classes are smaller, and they are with the same group of students for all of their classes. She likes the choices here and meeting new people. Her favorite subject is algebra.
Host Mom Kathy is a fourth-grade teacher at Henry Defer Intermediate School, and her students have had fun interacting with Louisa. They learned to say "Merry Christmas" in German and surprised her with the greeting one day when she stopped by their classroom.
One of Louisa's favorite things about living here is experiencing new and different foods. She loves all the restaurants in town. She also enjoys cooking and has made some German dishes for her host family, especially desserts.
Technology makes it easier for Louisa to keep in touch with loved ones back home. She Skypes with her family weekly and keeps up with friends on Facebook. Louisa has danced since she was 5 years old, and she is continuing her dancing here with her host sister. The two are taking a hip-hop class together at Lisa's School of Dance.
Highlights for Louisa and the Betleys have included traveling together to Niagara Falls and South Carolina. Louisa was able to experience New York City with her fellow exchange students when she first arrived to America last August. She and Emily are looking forward to visiting Walt Disney World over spring break on a trip with her exchange organization.
Her homesickness for Germany has now turned into feelings of sadness about leaving Streetsboro and her host family. Kathy says Louisa has really become a part of their family now and is not looking forward to saying "auf wiedersehen" to Louisa this May. The family does plan to visit her in Germany someday and Louisa hopes to return to the USA when she is in college.
Encounter Church is a new name for a Streetsboro institution. Formerly the Streetsboro Church of God, the church changed its name to Encounter Church to better reflect who they are now and the experience attendees to church events can expect. Encounter's pastors are The Rev. Michael and Gale Beth Rice.
This past Christmas, the church purchased and received donations to provide 600 gifts and stocking stuffers to 38 children -- and one baby on the way -- in need from their daycare facility and the community. Youth Pastors Jimmy and Tina Lovejoy, and children's Pastors Ryan and Keisha Lennon, organized the inaugural event which included crafts, refreshments and music. The church deemed it so successful that they plan to do it again in 2013. Encounter, along with its daycare and preschool facility, Imagination Station, is located at 9267 Route 43 in Streetsboro. The phone number is 330-626-2735.
As we turn the page to the new year, we look forward to new hopes and possibilities. Here are some words to inspire from author Carl Bard:
"Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."
Have any good news to share? Contact Karyn Hall at 330-995-3503 or email@example.com