Foreign exchange students arrive at Joplin airport

Host families greet 7 from across globe
Foreign exchange students arrive at Joplin airport

Teens from across the globe will be calling the four state area home for the next ten months. They’re exchange students and host families welcomed them Thursday at the Joplin regional airport.

“Here we go!” Brian Pommier said waiting with his family for his exchange student.
A handful exited an American Airlines flight and entered the Joplin airport looking for their host families.
Jeannette Shields from Parsons opened her arms and her home to a girl from Thailand and another teen girl from Japan. She’s hosted teens from Germany, Thailand and Spain before. Besides three meals a day and a bed, she hopes they see a different side of America.
“The news out there sometimes doesn’t portray us and other countries don’t portray us as who we really are. For them to come over and see us and see what we’re really like, is a good experience for them,” explained Jeannette.

For the two girls from Thailand this was about the 7th plane ride to get here. They want to experience the culture and practice English.
Bell Iachatacharoelsap from Thailand said, “I like do something, I’ve never done before.” When asked what kind of club she would join she answered, ” Maybe cheerleader.” And giggled.

Across the airport relief for the Pommier family. “We were getting worried, give her hugs,” said Brian as Ruy He from China entered.
The Pommier family’s student was last to leave the plane gathering her traditional Chinese instrument. She’s their second exchange student. Lola arrived from Kyrgyzstan a week ago.
Lola said, “I like America. It’s the thing I can definitely say.”
Ruy hopes to communicate better with people in the United States. She added, “There are many rules in China but America is more free, is freedom, I think is different from China.”
With one week with a foreign exchange student under his belt, Brian said, “So far it’s just learning about different traditions and also seeing how similar everything has been and really how small the world is.”
Lola has already tried Mcdonald’s and Sonic for the first time because they don’t exist in Kyrgyzstan. But she’s also looking forward to debate camp which she did at home and new things at school too.
Lola explained, “I’ll already know some of the kids I’m going to study with (for debate) and real exciting for me to get the experience to get like, um, to try new classes we dont have in Kyrgyzstan and just develop myself as a human individual.”

Hosting is noe a family affair for Shields. Her sister in law and daughter are also hosting exchange students but at least 170 more are needed for student waiting abroad. Shields said the benefits are there for the families as well. “It’s really fun to open up your home get to know new people. Our student from Germany came back and visited us for a week, two years after she’d been gone.”

Penny Spore the local coordinator for CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) said, “It’s a lifelong experience. You gain a son or a daughter that you have for a lifetime.

You can contact Penny for information on being a host family at 620-778-4264. Or click here for CIEE information.


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