International Students Share a Taste of Home

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
Recently, Academic Year Coordinator (AYA) Cathy Scott and her husband Ken hosted their annual International Potluck dinner at their farm near Spiritwood, ND. The get-together is a chance for Cathy’s foreign exchange students and their families to talk about their experiences and bring a little taste of their home country to the plate. This year they tasted food traditionally of Italy, China and Vietnam.
Cathy says that that the students making their traditional dishes sometimes find that American grocery stores don’t carry some of the same ingredients that are needed and that they also face a bit of a challenge converting grams and liters into cups and tablespoons and teaspoons.
Some students the past four years have brought ingredients with them from home when they’ve come in the fall, which is what Rachele Cantella did to prepare a pasta dish for the potluck. Rachele, an exchange student from Italy, attended Jamestown HS while living with Tom and Missy Soulis. Since she was only a semester student, she has now returned to Italy.
Another student, Hanna Vo of Vietnam, treated the potluck-goers to a whole lobster, which her parents brought with them from Vietnam when they flew in to visit in December. Her favorite food experience while staying in the U.S. is broiled steak, something she says is much tastier here in America than in Vietnam, though she can’t quite put her finger on why. After sending her parents a picture of a T-bone, they responded with the message “bring some home with you when you return.”
Hanna is living with the Scotts and attends Jamestown High School.
Xie Entao, a student from China, cooked a dish that he said he’d need to translate for the Scotts if they wished to have the recipe. He is attending Montpelier High School and lives with Dustin and Lucinda Lien.
Elena Origlia cooked up a traditional Italian cookie for the meal, and said she was quite lucky to find all the ingredients she needed right in Valley City. Both she and fellow Italian exchange student Rachele noted that our American grocery stores lack the variety of cheeses that theirs do, but that the U.S. has a much wider variety of canned soups. Most individuals in Italy prefer to make their food from scratch, and ready-made foods are not widely available in their stores. In fact, Elena had never had a ready-made pizza before coming to the U.S. She is living with Christine and Brian Deaver of Valley City and attends Valley City High School.
Other exchange students in the area this year are Paulene Olivia Orlynck, who is from Belgium and lives with Deb and Craig Carlson while attending Jamestown High School. Jonas Weiss, of Germany, stays with Samantha and Spencer Hanson and goes to Dakota Prairie High School.
Cathy has been acting as AYA Coordinator since 1988 and tries to take trips abroad each year. Since 1988, she says she’s been abroad every year except one. She says that her experiences with these students and their families are rewarding and so important to both the students’ and host families’ communities.
She encourages community members to consider being a part of the program as a “Welcoming Family,” where families open their home to an exchange student for a period of 4-8 weeks and determine whether it’s the right fit for both. After that time, families and students can decide to either remain under one roof, or if it’s best to move on. Whether you’re a welcoming family or decide to be a host family, you get to change students’ lives while letting them change yours.
Anyone interested in more information or joining the AYA program is welcome to call Cathy Scott at 701-252-5764.