Exchange student's stay is mutually rewarding SOUTHWEST -- Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

NEIGHBORS

April 02, 1993|By KATHY SUTPHIN

Four years ago, a few brief paragraphs in an article opened our family's eyes to the world and our hearts to a special friend from France.

Her name is Celine Coulon. In 1989, she came to Mount Airy from a suburb of Paris as a member of a student-exchange summer program. We responded to the newspaper's plea for host families and were matched with Celine. She stayed in our home for four weeks that summer and charmed all of us with her wit, wisdom and wide-eyed wonder at all things American.

Celine's visit was a two-way educational experience that did not end that summer. She returned in 1990, as a friend, for another four-week summer visit. In 1991, Nicki, our teen-age daughter, traveled to France for a three-week summer vacation with Celine's family. Celine is now in college but still finds time to write her "American family" regularly.

This summer, South Carroll residents will have an opportunity to open their homes and hearts to special visitors when 25 English-speaking high school students arrive from France for a four-week visit.

Host families are needed from July 5 to Aug. 1 to house and feed these 15- to 18-year-old French visitors, according to Winfield resident Shirley Yohn. Mrs. Yohn, a French teacher at South Carroll High School, serves as the area program director for International Training and Exchange.

Requirements are few to be a host family -- an extra bed and meals to share. Mrs. Yohn explained there's no need for a separate bedroom -- fold-out couches or sofa beds are fine. Host families do not need to speak French and are not required to have teen-age children. Retired couples and couples with small children make excellent host families.

French visitors will be matched to a host family on the basis of an interview conducted by Mrs. Yohn, who will visit the homes of prospective host families. The students will have spending money and full dental and medical insurance coverage.

"It's meant to be hassle-free for the host family," she said.

Enjoyable activities will be held Mondays through Fridays to entertain the French students, such as bowling and swimming parties, shopping excursions, and a tour of a Pizza Hut. Trips to Hershey Park, Annapolis and the District of Columbia are also being planned, said Mrs. Yohn. Weekends are left open so host families may spend the time with their guests.

During their visits, French students will practice their English and learn first-hand about American culture. The program also benefits children of host families, especially those who are studying or plan to study French.

"The purpose is to allow the students to gain insight into another culture and to promote international understanding," Mrs. Yohn said.

Although this is not the same program that brought Celine into our lives, the idea is the same.

If you would like to find out more about having a French student in your home this summer, call Shirley Yohn at (410) 875-0612.

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What do you get when you combine jump ropes, loud music, and 210 enthusiastic students at Mount Airy Elementary?

Would you believe $10,900 in donations for the American Heart Association?

Robin Townsend and Linda Coons, physical education teachers at Mount Airy Elementary, recently sponsored the school's fifth Jump Rope for Heart.

Fifth-grader Brandy Few was the top fund-raiser for the second year in a row with $327.20 in collections.

The 1993 tally brings the school's total dollars raised during five Jump Rope for Heart events to $52,900. In 1992, Mount Airy Elementary earned recognition as the state's top Jump Rope for Heart school, with $14,353.12 in collections.

The event is an annual energetic adventure into the world of helping others, in which students get sponsors to pledge donations based on the time they will jump rope.

"With music playing, teams of six kids jumped two kids at a time for 90 minutes," said Mrs. Townsend, adding that students earn incentive prizes from the Heart Association based on the amount of money they collect. "Every child who participated got a jump rope."

After the event, students munched cookies and large, red apples -- a case of which were donated by Baugher's Orchard. "The kids learn about volunteering, and they have a good time doing it," added Mrs. Townsend.

A bonus to the program is that participating schools receive 5 percent of their total to spend on sporting goods to encourage physical fitness, which amounted to $550 in 1993 for Mount Airy Elementary, Mrs. Townsend said.

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Mount Airy's Jaycees will hold their Spring Membership Open House from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Safari's Restaurant in the Dubbaneh Plaza, 1502 S. Main St., Mount Airy.

Community-oriented adults, male or female, ages 21 to 40, are invited to the event that will feature food, fellowship and information about the local Jaycees' many projects and activities.

Information: Dave Bohrer, 831-7821.

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