Families needed to host foreign student

Rotary hosting a youth from Holland

By: Ian Tennant

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:23 am

Finnish Rotary exchange student Jesper Honkonen, centre, plays with the McFadyen family in Okotoks, including Sira on his shoulders, Mila and their parents Ana and Peter. The Okotoks Rotary is looking for parents to host another foreign student.
Finnish Rotary exchange student Jesper Honkonen, centre, plays with the McFadyen family in Okotoks, including Sira on his shoulders, Mila and their parents Ana and Peter. The Okotoks Rotary is looking for parents to host another foreign student.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The Rotary Club of Okotoks is looking for families to host a student from Holland.

Ana McFadyen, who is coordinating the exchange program, said the local Rotary Club needs at least two more families to host 17-year-old Menno Laurens Johannes Van ‘T Riet.

“We want to see the community involved,” said McFadyen.

Two families are already lined up to give Van ‘T Riet a home for roughly three months each, but four is the total the Rotarians are looking. Ideally, said McFadyen, Rotary would like to have more than four families so it has back-up hosts.

McFadyen is enthusiastic about the benefits for the host family and the exchange student because she knows what its like to be on both sides. Her family is currently hosting Jesper Honkonen from Finland, and she was once an exchange student (not via Rotary) in 1991-92 when she left what was then Yugoslavia to live a year in Black Diamond.

I found it very neat,” said the local realtor and substitute teacher about her year in Black Diamond. “It was the most fun year of my life.”

Meanwhile, Honkonen has had a positive effect on McFadyen’s two daughters, Mila, 9, and Sira, 7.

“He’s a good role model for my kids,” said McFadyen, adding the two youngsters benefit from seeing a youth who is disciplined, loves learning and excels at sports.

“My kids are seeing what’s necessary to succeed in sports,” said the proud mother.

Honkonen is the third international student the McFadyens have hosted.

“They are becoming part of our family,” said McFadyen.

Families will not be paid for hosting Van ‘T Riet and must be willing to provide room and board for roughly three months. They will be interviewed by the Rotary and asked to produce a background check.

Van ‘T Riet will have his own health insurance and spending money when he arrives in August. He will also enroll in one of the local high schools. The young Dutch man plays soccer and the guitar, practices judo and comes from the town of Obdam.

For more information, call McFadyen at 403-816-1026.


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