Every year, 5-10 exchange students come to Owensboro to experience 10 months immersed in the American high school experience. This year, Daviess County High School will educate five exchange students from Germany, Brazil, Thailand, and Mongolia.
For the exchange students at DCHS, studying abroad in the United States was a lifelong goal. Lennart Merkel, a 15-year old junior from Munich, Germany said that his brother’s exchange program in Canada was the impetus for his own decision to study abroad.
“It’s such an experience that you’ll always remember your whole life. Nobody can take that from you,” he said.
Experiencing a different school, language, and culture is exciting to Lennert. For his exchange experience, Lennart selected EF Student Exchange Program, known for its leadership in international education, exchange programs, global educational tours, global boarding schools, college abroad, and teaching English opportunities.
16-year old Boris Scarano from Berlin, Germany credited his desire to spend a year in the United States to his passion for the English language and a curiosity to see what the life of an American teenager is like.
When asked why he wanted to study in the United States, he said, “You only live once,” with a laugh.
Boris would love to visit California, Florida, and an NBA game while he’s here.
His host family, Jacqui and David Boyce and their two-year old son, Steven Paul, said that Boris immediately stood out to them because of his interest in sports and Harry Potter.
“We knew pretty quickly he was the one for us!” exclaimed the Boyce’s and their family has enthusiastically jumped in to make Owensboro feel like home for Boris. Jacqui said that her family had 30 days of communication with Boris before he arrived in the United States.
“We felt like we already knew him…It was like welcoming home family,” she shared. The Boyle family has a two-year old son, Steven Paul. “It really makes us feel complete having another kiddo around.”
This is the second time the Boyce family has hosted an exchange student.
“We always take our students to an American baseball game when they get here…we go to Busch stadium and watch the St. Louis Cardinals,” Jacqui said.
Lennart said his host family, Will and Brittany Zik, is very welcoming and have given him two host brothers, Liam and Tytus, to bond with, as well as two small dogs. The Zik family has invited Lennart to stay a bit longer to attend a church mission trip once school ends. His plans for after high school include traveling around the world and attending a university somewhere.
“The U.S. is a very big country. I spent four weeks on the west coast in 2014, but I’d like to see more,” Lennart said. “I’d like to see all the continents,” he said.
He is planning to visit Disney World over Spring Break when his family flies in from Germany to visit him.
Since both students came to the United States through two different exchange programs and live more than six hours away from each other, they didn’t meet until the first day of DCHS soccer practice at the end of July. Daviess County High School Guidance Counselor Neil Hayden said that this year’s exchange students are not assigned a particular liaison from DCHS but will benefit from a relationship with their advocate (homeroom teacher) and guidance counselor.
“People are more open and friendly here. Everyone wants to help you,” said Lennart. “Here, teachers are for the kids.”