Jan. 8, 2007

A German addition

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Peter and Josie Aho of Dassel are enjoying the new addition to their family by being host parents to Alex Goeke, 16, of Berlin, Germany.

With six beautiful children, the Ahos find the more, the merrier being their second time hosting a foreign exchange student.

“Foreign exchange is a super fun thing . . . meeting Alex has been amazing,” said host mother, Josie Aho.

Goeke is currently a senior at Dassel-Cokato High School and is enjoying his time in America and the DC area. He particularly enjoys the people, nature, and . . . the cars. He is hoping to get his driver’s license during his visit, as well.

School, as Goeke is finding out, is much different in the US than back home. Here, students want to represent their school and take pride in it, where as in Berlin, students tend to fight or rebel against their schools.

In America, activities are held at and during school, while in Berlin, they are separate from school entirely, Goeke said.

Students and teachers have more one-on-one interaction between each other in DC and tend to be closer. In Berlin, Goeke said, the teachers are more strict and don’t spend much quality time with the students individually.

Even though Goeke is only 16, he chose to be a senior in America. When he returns to Berlin, he will have one more year to complete before he has enough credits to graduate, Goeke said.

The Ahos are enjoying the winter break, along with Goeke. They have been shopping, celebrating Christmas, and spending time together as a family. Whatever it is, “We always have fun,” Goeke said.

Goeke is excited to learn the American culture and to hopefully improve his English (which isn’t bad), and experience what American kids do for fun.

He enjoys skiing and snowboarding and is hoping to join the ski club. Last fall, Goeke was involved in football; and in the spring, will participate in track. He also enjoys playing soccer.

But there is one thing Goeke doesn’t like about America. “I don’t like American food,” he said. “It’s too sweet and fattening,” he said.

Goeke had a visitor over the holidays. His sister, Grit, came to spend two weeks of her school break with her little brother. She has also been a foreign exchange student in New York.

Josie and the family enjoy having foreign exchange students.

“It’s lots of fun . . . you get to meet new people and learn a different culture,” Josie said.

“Every foreign exchange student is different,” she added.

The kids enjoy them, as well. “We get to do more stuff as a family,” Sophia said.

At the end of the year, Goeke would like to stay and attend another year of high school and then go off to an American college, but unfortunately, finances might not allow that, he explained, and he will have to return to Berlin.

Josie has other plans for him and would like to build him a little home at the end of their driveway, she said.

“Our life is so much brighter with him in our lives,” Josie said.

“I am sure we will be close friends with him and his family for always,” she added.

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