Being a host family called rewarding experience


July 22, 1998|By Kathy Curtis | Kathy Curtis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BEING A host family to a young man from Rome, for an entire school year "was one of the best experiences we've had in a long time," said Running Brook resident Donna Lyman.

Donna and her husband, Mike, welcomed 17-year-old Andrea Pederzoli into their home last fall.

At the time, they were newcomers to Columbia. They had lived here only one year, after an 18-month stay in Armenia, where Mike Lyman was on assignment for the U.S. Public Health Service. "We still wanted that international connection," said Donna Lyman.

So they arranged to be a host family to a student through the EF Foundation, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, Mass.

The Lymans have 6- and 8-year-old sons.

"They developed a brotherly relationship with Andrea," said Donna Lyman. "He blended into the household."

The Lymans got an unexpected bonus for being hosts to a teen-ager. "It gave us a window into the future," Donna Lyman said. "We learned a lot about teen-agers."

Andrea attended Wilde Lake High School, where he made a number of friends and became involved in the choir and in theater productions. He also participated in the graduation ceremony, which his mother and younger brother attended.

Donna Lyman commented that the ceremony, with students in caps and gowns, was like "living an American movie" to Andrea.

Lyman acknowledged that being a host to a student for a year is a significant commitment.

"You have to be open to someone becoming part of your family," she said. "They hear the good as well as the bad."

She added, "We were lucky we had someone so flexible. Andrea opened his heart to the American experience."

The EF Foundation is looking for families who would like to be hosts to an exchange student during the coming school year.

Local representatives will be available to answer questions during Columbia International Day, which will be from noon to 10: 30 p.m. Saturday at the Columbia Town Center lakefront.

Coordinator Lisa Solomon estimates that the EF Foundation places 15 to 20 high school students in Howard County each year. The students come from Europe, Asia and South America.

"Students participate in all aspects of American life," said Solomon, "from celebrating U.S. holidays all the way down to helping with the dishes."

In Howard County, the EF Foundation has four local coordinators, including Piff Fitting of Beaverbrook.

The coordinators arrange placements, work with schools and supervise students throughout the year.

Information: 410-461-7362.

Rotarian honored

Clary's Forest resident Darrell Nevin has been named Rotarian of the Year by the Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent.

Departing club President Joan Athen presented the award at the club's dinner last month.

As part of the award, the club donated $1,000 in Nevin's name to the Rotary Foundation, thus making Nevin a Paul Harris Fellow.

This honor, named for the Rotary's founder, is considered one of the highest awards that can be presented to a Rotarian.

Nevin, who heads a company called the LeaseWright, was also named president elect for the club for the coming year.

Last year, he was vice president and membership chairman.

Nevin was "a super asset to the club," said Athen, who selected him for the award. She said he was instrumental in bringing in several new members and organized meetings to educate all members about the purpose of the club.

Nevin also co-chaired the club's major fund-raiser, a dinner-dance and silent auction.

The event raised $25,000, which was recently awarded to several nonprofit organizations.

Boards fill vacancies

Several village boards have appointed members recently to fill vacant seats.

In Dorsey's Search, longtime resident Tom O'Connor was appointed to a two-year term ending in April 2000.

O'Connor has been active in local sports and community groups.

Harper's Choice had two vacancies after board Chairman Tom Forno was elected Columbia Council representative and board member John Hogan resigned.

George Stuehler and Lee Potter were appointed to fill the vacant seats until the next election, in April 1999.

Stuehler, a Hobbit's Glen resident, has been active in his homeowners association.

Potter, who lives in Swansfield, served on the village's Open Space Committee and is active on the Revitalization Committee.

Harper's Choice also has a new teen representative, Longfellow resident Ben Rosenbleet, who replaces Rachael Miles. Ben has been appointed for a one-year term.

In Wilde Lake, two new members have been appointed to the board for one-year terms.

Robert Vogel, a 30-year resident of Columbia, has worked for government agencies in Howard County and the District of Columbia.

Faulkner Ridge resident Vivian Stevens has been active on the Revitalization Steering Committee and serves as president of the Partridge Courts Condo Association.

Wilde Lake also has a new part-time covenant adviser, Joyce Purvis.

A Wilde Lake resident, Purvis is retired from the federal government.

Players set auditions

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