By Jen Bakken
A foreign exchange student from Seoul, South Korea has been attending classes at Delano High School since the first day of school last September.
Joon-Beom (JB) has become friends with many students and accepted as a part of the senior class.
In January, the host family he was living with was unable to keep him due to job changes and required travel. This meant JB could have been sent back to South Korea if a new host family was not found.
After an article in the Monday, Jan. 28 issue of the Delano Herald Journal regarding JB’s situation, three area families offered him a home. JB is now living with Andy and Kerry Barnauskas.
“I am so happy,” said JB. “I can stay in Delano and they (are) so nice.”
The couple has two children, Colin, who graduated last year from Delano High School and plays Junior A hockey in Hudson, Wis. while living with a host family, and Erin, who is in her senior year at the University of Minnesota.
Even though their own children are out of the house, Kerry felt she wanted to help JB.
“Since Colin graduated last year,” she said. “I know a lot of the kids JB has become friends with. I know many of the teachers and we have the space. ”
They aren’t planning to host foreign exchange students in the future and say this was a one-time thing just to help JB stay in Delano.
The Barnauskas have a horse farm, and when JB first arrived, he asked to go with Kerry when she fed the horses. Initially, he was eager to be near the horses, but when Kerry brought one in the barn, he took a step back and said, “Oh, they’re big.”
Kerry hopes to convince him to ride a horse before he returns home to South Korea.
Though JB is able to stay in Delano, he does need to focus on his schoolwork because the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA) can send him home for poor academic performance.
“I’m working hard,” JB said, “so I (can) stay here with (my) friends.”