Four local students headed overseas in student exchange

Courtesy/Bethany Berhorst.Katie Sauer, Matt Roudebush and Emily McElwine

Courtesy/Bethany Berhorst.Katie Sauer, Matt Roudebush and Emily McElwine

When Ines Schumacher left her native Switzerland in August, she hoped to experience American culture and improve her English.

Since arriving, she’s been to football games, watched yellow school buses in action and taken a trip to Branson. And her spoken English is expanding every day.

“I want to experience real life here,” Schumacher said. “I hope not to be treated as an exchange student, but as someone from here.” That is the same experience four local high school seniors are anticipating when they leave in August 2011 for a year abroad.

The Rotary International Youth Exchange District 6080 selected the following students to live in these countries next school year: Matt Roudebush, northern Italy; Cody Distler, Ecuador; Katie Sauer, Brazil; and Emily McElwine, Spain.

“I’ve always been interested in studying abroad and the cultural experience,” Sauer said.

A family trip to Mexico when she was 10 opened her eyes to different lives and cultures, she said.

Distler hopes to improve his bilingual skills by being immersed in the Spanish-speaking culture.

“I know the written language, but not so much the spoken,” Distler said. “Hearing and speaking it all the time will help incredibly.”

Eventually, Distler hopes to become a traveling mechanical engineer.

“In the U.S. today, it’s very necessary to be successful,” Distler said.

Although she had studied English for five years, Schumacher discovered her first week in America that she had the vocabulary to understand but not to speak it.

“I thought too much” at first, Schumacher said. “Then I started talking ... wrong ... then it got better.”

While most of their peers are putting in their “last” year of high school and preparing for college, for these four students, their directions have changed.

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