HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Feb. 20, 2006

Dassel family hosts French exchange student

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Pastor Steve Olson of Gethsemane Lutheran in Dassel and his wife Diane have welcomed Leo Desprez into their homes for her second term as a foreign exchange student.

Leo, 18, is a senior at Dassel-Cokato High School. She is from Normandy, a region in France.

Leo explained the climate in this part of France is rainy yet beautiful. In Northern France, where she lives, there are beaches, whereas in the south there are more hills.

Normandy is known for WW II when the allies came into Europe through the beaches of Normandy to fight the Nazis. So there are many cemeteries, Leo said.

She likes everything about France, especially the food. All American food seems to taste the same. In France, she eats a lot more cheese and bread than Americans do. “The cheese smells bad, but it tastes really good,” Leo said.

The towns are close together so each town is fairly small, even smaller than Dassel and Cokato, she explained.

Leo likes many things about Minnesota also. She enjoys the snow and ice. She’s even been tubing a few times.

It’s a calm area and the people are very nice here, she said. Things in France seemed to always be changing especially politically, she explained.

The school life is much different here than France she explained. The classes are easier and the days are shorter. School is also a place not only for study. For example, kids go to hang out with their friends and participate in activities.

French students get four two-week periods off from school throughout the year, Leo said. Two in the fall, two over Christmas and New Years, two in February, and two in the spring for Easter.

There are no school sports but she has taken classes on sailing and horse riding during the summers, she explained.

Last fall, Leo was in cross country and she currently plays basketball for the Chargers.

Steve explained how he has a new respect for parents with student athletes.

“We’ve had many foreign exchange students before but not one who has been active in sports...it has given us a fresh insight on parents with student athletes here in D-C,” he said.

Kids are quite busy these days, with school, sports and church activities, “It can be very challenging for the student and the parents,” Steve explained.

Leo has been a “delight” and the Olson family encourages other families to host a foreign exchange student as well.

“It’s a wonderful learning experience for the family and the community,” he said.

When asked what country she’s cheering for in the Olympics, she said, “France, of course.”

The Olsons were approached by the Swedish Student Exchange to host Leo. They have had many foreign exchange students from around the world including, India, Germany, Holland, Denmark and France.


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