International dessert expands horizons for exchange students

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AFS exchange students in the Walla Walla Valley and Eagle Cap area informed, entertained and expanded horizons with a series of six presentations for AFS host families, guests and volunteers during an international dessert evening Nov. 16, said Darcy Dauble, local AFS Chapter chairwoman.

Mediterranean cuisines, Middle Eastern pastries, dried fruits and nuts were served. Surprise contributions to the catered feast were made by host family parent John Ladderud, who used a family recipe for apple crisp, and exchange student Martin Ortiz, who brought the Argentine version of sugar cookies.

The group also heard about hosting possibilities for next year’s incoming students and what opportunities are available for local students who wish to travel and study abroad with AFS Intercultural Programs and its sponsored programs such as Youth, Exchange and Study.

Three students are here on scholarships for the academic year through YES, which is administered through the U.S. Department Division of Education and Cultural Affairs, Darcy said.

The students share their own country and culture through community presentations as part of the exchange process, including in area schools and classrooms.

AFS has four exchange students in Walla Walla who attend Walla Walla High School.

They were joined by YES students Bashar Aburamadan of Gaza and Allieu Muiwa of Sierra Leone, staying in Joseph and Enterprise, respectively.

AFS students Martin Ortiz of Argentina who’s in Walla Walla, and Valentian Quintana of Chile, staying in Enterprise, also participated in the dessert evening’s activities.

“Martin’s slides awed the audience with a display of the diverse beauty of Argentina’s landscape,” Darcy said

“Individual love of country, cultural pride and a passionate hope for playing a significant role for good in a homeland’s future were clearly expressed by each student,” Darcy said.

Fatin Klongsamut explained proper Thai greeting etiquette. Valter Serafim described Mozambique’s slow but steady recovery from a 15-year civil war, which began after independence from Portugal was achieved and lasted until 1992.

“Bashar was particularly poignant as his program contrasted a ‘hellish’ reality and lifetime of airstrikes, blockades, occupations and refugee camps in the Gaza Strip with expressions of love for his family and a fervent desire for a viable Palestinian State.”

Longtime AFS volunteers and former host family Rhonda and Keith Olson expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to meet and hear from the young people.

The AFS Valley Chapter plans to place four students in Walla Walla and two in Dayton and Waitsburg, and support sending at least one student abroad in 2014.

The $200 in donations collected at the dessert evening will go toward assisting a local student in studying abroad. Interested students can contact the Wa-Hi Career Counseling Center.

Linnea Keatts, AFS local programs coordinator, recommends families thinking about hosting for the school year in 2014 begin the application process now as international student biographies will become available this month.

For more information, contact Linnea at 509-525-0049 or click here.

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