As part of the International Students Program at New Lebanon High School, sophomore Marlene Ehlers from Tuebenge, Germany is spending the school year learning about American culture and perfecting her English.
Marlene lives with Amy Brueckmann and her daughter Jessica, also a sophomore at the high school. According to Brueckmann, the experience has brought a sense of family.
“Jessica is getting the experience of living with someone like a sibling,” said Brueckmann. “She gets the benefit of having a sister, and they chat like girlfriends.”
Marlene echoed the sentiment. “I like living with Jessica. It’s like having a sister away from home,” she said.
Marlene said she came to the United States to learn more about the culture and to work on her English (which is quite good). She said it is not at all uncommon for German teenagers to study abroad. In fact, her best friend moved to Connecticut. She hopes to have the opportunity to travel to New York and Boston as well.
With the Brueckmanns, Marlene is learning about American food and traditions, and is making a lot of friends along the way. She is a part of the Appetites Anonymous club at the school and recently participated in the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner that benefited more than 70 people.
Brueckman said she was surprised at how independent Marlene was when she came to New Lebanon.
“In Germany, all of the kids take public transportation or they walk to where they are going. She is used to taking a train a half an hour to go to school each day,” said Brueckman. “We’re learning so much from each other, and it’s all good!”
Marlene is taking Living Environment: Biology, Global 10, English 10, Black Tie Affair (Choir), Senior Choir, Algebra 1, and Drawing and Painting.
She said school is the biggest difference from Germany. There she had a class of 20-25 students, who all take the same subjects with one another, as opposed to the bell system and choice of electives in New Lebanon.
Marlene was named to the honor roll during the first quarter of the school year.
This is the second year of New Lebanon’s International Student Program. The district partners with Educatius International to assist in identifying students who would be appropriate for the program. The students are responsible for paying the district tuition and there is a stipend to host families.
New Lebanon Jr/Sr High School Principal Matthew Klafehn and Kristin Carson, the school’s international coordinator and library assistant, works with Educatius to coordinate the students’ placement and arrival.
For more information about becoming a host parent during the 2015-16 school year, please visit the International Students Program page