Exchange students attend local high schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

For 22 years, the Center for Cultural Interchange has been placing foreign students in high schools throughout the country.

“We are highly recognized by the U.S. Department of State,” said Carla Holt, area coordinator, southeastern Ohio and eastern Kentucky. “We partner with 40 different countries all over the world — all of Europe, Asian countries and many South American countries.

The non-profit foundation places about 1,000 students nationwide each year.

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At the present time, they still have about 130 students to place by August 30.

“I’m committed to about 10 of those in this area,” Hold said.

She has 15 students already coming to the area this school year.

South Point High School has a girl from Germany and a girl from Thailand and Chesapeake High School has a girl from South Korea. One girl is from Taiwan and will be attending Rock Hill High School. Ironton High School has a girl from Poland and Dawson Bryant has two boys — a boy from Mexico and a boy from Japan.

“They are from all over the globe,” Holt said.

Linda Kazee, of South Point, has two girls this school year and she is very excited about having them.

The girl from Germany, Heleana, arrived Friday night at Charleston airport. She wants to be a journalist. Patti, the girl from Thailand wants to be a doctor.

“God put it in my hands,” she said. “When I became disabled from work and I was pretty much confined to the house, I knew God had plans for me but I didn’t know what it would be.”

After many prayers, she got a phone call from Holt telling her about the exchange students.

“I am just so excited, I feel like an expectant mother,” she said. “It’s been a godsend to me.”

Kazee lived in Germany for two years at one time and made friends while she was there. She worked at Marathon for 24 years before becoming disabled.

“It was a wonderful experience for me,” she said. “When I couldn’t go back to work, I was just so sad. I have a three-bedroom home and it is so empty, it’s just a house. Those girls will make it a home.”

Her son, David Kazee, is getting two boys, one from Mexico and one from Japan, who will be going to Dawson-Bryant High School.

“When the phone call came, I felt like I would have two of my own,” Kazee said. “I’ll just treat them like my own. I’m beside myself, I really am. It’s like having children without the pain. It’s even better. I just wish more people would do it.”

Craig and Melissa Pinker-ton, of Ironton, chose a Polish girl to host while their daughter Gabrielle Born was abroad with People to People.

“I encourage the students to give back to the community,” Holt said. “I want them to touch the lives of everyone they can while they are here.”

For more information, call Carla Holt toll free at (866) 396-9624 or (606) 836-1265.