Herald Journal, May 10, 2004
HLWW exchange student enjoys US ice cream, candy
By Jody Anderson
American ice cream and candy bars are something that foreign exchange student Daniel Alejandro Manríquez Catalán of Chile has discovered since he’s been attending school at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.
Jeanne and Tom Oliva, who live north of Howard Lake are Manríquez’s host parents. Host brothers David and Rob are away at college, and host sister Renee is a sophomore at HLWW high school.
“He loves Dairy Queen blizzards,” Jeanne Oliva said. Manríquez also enjoys soda pop and Snickers candy bars, she said.
Manríquez is somewhat at home in the Minnesota climate, since his home country of Chile offers the same contrasts in seasons. However, Minnesota is a bit colder than back home.
“They have every possible kind of weather,” Oliva commented.
“Chile is a land of many contrasts, from the highest mountain to the deepest sea, from the arid desert to the cold forests in the south, passing through the central valley with its temperate climate,” Manríquez said.
Chile, a very long and narrow country, is situated in South America, limited on the west side by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by Argentina (by the natural border caused by the Andes Mountains).
To the northeast is Bolivia, and to the north lies Peru, Manríquez said.
Chile is generally divided into four large geographic zones: the extreme north consists of the Atacama Desert (the most arid in the world).
Next is the Central Valley, which has a mediterranean climate. Third is the lake region (very similar to Alaska, with large forests), and lastly, the frozen region to the extreme south.
Chile possesses Easter Island in Oceania and owns land in Antarctica due to its geographic location, with several scientific bases located there.
Manríquez lives in Talcahuano, which is more or less at the geographical center of Chile.
“Talcahuano is the most important military port of the country; the majority of Chilean war ships are built there,” he said.
How student and family were matched
Manríquez wanted to improve his language skills and broaden his horizons, which inspired him to become a foreign exchange student through American Field Service (AFS) last summer.
He arrived in Howard Lake in January.
Manríquez is an only child who lives with his mother and grandmother. His mother is a physical education professor.
The time he spends at HLWW High School will be counted as the first semester of his last year of high school in Chile.
His favorite topics are politics and economics; he plans to pursue a degree in economics when he returns home. He also belongs to a theater group, and likes to recite poetry.
Hosting an exchange student is not a new experience for the Olivas; they hosted Ivonne Spadoni from Italy last fall.
“My sister took an exchange student from Colombia, and she became a part of their family,” Jeanne Oliva commented. “Then we became interested. Daniel has been great.”
The Olivas obtained information on how to become a host family from an information booth at the state fair, and proceeded from there.
Both students and host families receive a lot of help from AFS; there are monthly meetings for them to get together and share their experiences.
At each meeting, one of the students gives a presentation on their country of origin. In May, Daniel will be giving his presentation on Chile.
AFS also organizes outdoor activities, including skiing and golf. The Olivas have also taken Daniel on a trip to Washington D.C.
Jeanne Oliva is an enthusiastic supporter of the exchange student experience.
“Howard Lake doesn’t have exchange students very often,” she said, “It’s good to be exposed to other cultures. We’ll do this again next year.”
All is not trips and sports however; many times this is the first time the student has spent a long time away from home and family.
Feelings of loneliness, and frustration with not being able to express themselves adequately are common.
Living in another culture is literally a situation that shocks the system; new family, new food, different meal times, different customs, different language reversed seasons, and different lifestyles are entertaining at best and confusing at worst.
Jeanne Oliva says she is reading up on culture shock and its effects, which has been very helpful.
It would seem that although not entirely painless, the experience of being an exchange student or hosting an exchange student sparks several intriguing possibilities, not the least of which being an opportunity to get to know others and ourselves just a little bit better.