A farm stand with an international flavor


August 20, 2002|By Dana Klosner-Wehner | Dana Klosner-Wehner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TRAVELING TO Maryland beaches during the summer, vacationers can see produce stands lining the roads. But you don't need to head to the Eastern Shore for farm-fresh fruit. You find it in east Columbia, on the shoulder of Broken Land Parkway, where a Delmarva Farms truck sells fruit grown on the Eastern Shore.

If you stop there, you will notice that the fruit seller has an accent. Ildiko Tunde Szakats (Ildy to her friends) is from Transylvania, Romania. She is working in the United States through an Eastern European student work exchange program. She is here for the summer with her brother Zolton Szakats (ZoZo) and friends Zsuzsanna Bernad (Susie), Bea'ta A'cs (Betty) and Lorand Denes (Dennis).

All five are working for Delmarva Farms, whose office is in Catonsville. Each drives a produce truck, stopping throughout Howard County, and the five live together in a house in Catonsville that is owned by the farm.

"We got involved with the work exchange program about three years ago," said Ginny Lewhorn, Delmarva Farms manager. "Before that, we used American college students. One summer, one of our drivers went to Ocean City with his daughter and noticed that many of the ride and games operators were European. They were from Ireland, England, Scotland, places like that. He found out they were working through ... an exchange program for students from the UK [United Kingdom]."

From there, Delmarva Farms got involved with Work Exchange USA, which serves Eastern European students. It was through that program that Szakats and her friends found Delmarva Farms.

"Some of my colleagues worked for Delmarva last summer," said Szakats, a medical student. "They said wonderful things about it, so we applied through the program."

When she returns home after her American adventure, Szakats will finish her last year of medical school. She plans to become an ophthalmologist.

"This has been the best summer of my life," Szakats said. "Every day has been full of events and new things."

When they are not working on the produce trucks, Szakats and her friends have taken trips to Ocean City and Washington.

"The people in Columbia are so friendly," Szakats said. "Many stop to bring me sodas with ice, some even bring lunch. It is not usual in Romania for people to talk so openly. American people seem more open-minded."

The students will be running the trucks at least through Labor Day.

"It's an amazing experience," said Lewhorn, also a college student. "I've formed wonderful friendships with a lot of European students."

Lewhorn plans to work in Europe through a student work exchange program next summer.

Szakats says she plans to travel around the United States with her friends for a few weeks before returning home. She wants to spend time in New York.

"This is a summer I'll never forget," she said.

School, community fair

Volunteers still can get involved in the Dasher Green Elementary School and Owen Brown Middle School Community Fair. It is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25.

"The fair will be an opportunity to give people information on all the services available on the school campus and countywide," said Nanette Hunter, Dasher Green PTA president.

The school campus includes a Head Start program and a Judy Center - a resource to help prepare children for school.

The fair will include information from county agencies, including child care, tutoring assistance and education seminars for parents.

"Our goal is to create community connections," Hunter said. "We haven't done anything quite like this before."

The fair will be fun for children, too. It will include food, games, basketball, face-painting and music.

Information: 410-381-2426.

Open house

Phelps Luck Elementary School will hold an open house for pupils and their parents from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Children can meet their teachers and visit their classrooms. Treats will be given to children who return their completed summer workbook.

Information: 410-313-6886.

New board members

The Kings Contrivance Village Board has appointed two new members, Buna Cumbie and Timothy Richards.

Richards has lived in Columbia for three years and in Kings Contrivance since spring. Although he has lived in the village for only a short time, he said he feels a connection to the neighborhood.

"Our neighbors are very friendly," Richards said. "There are lots of children in the area, and you never have to stray far to find something you need. This is a great place to raise kids."

Richards and his wife, Sara, have a son, Nathan, 3, and are expecting another child in December.

"We plan to be in Columbia for quite a while," Richards said. "It's interesting to see how things are handled and have a say in what goes on in the neighborhood."

Cumbie has lived in the village with his wife, Joanna, for 23 years. Their two sons, Buna Bishop Cumbie III and Trajan, are Hammond High School graduates. Cumbie, a member of the 2001 class of Leadership Howard County, says he is interested in serving the community.

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