International student exchange program readies for visit


Walla Walla host families will welcome three students from Mozambique, Turkey and Thailand. Participating in the AFS-USA Intercultural Program YES, they are expected the second week of August and will spend the school year here. As students at Walla Walla High School, they will participate in classes, clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities, said Darcy Dauble, AFS Walla Walla Valley Chapter team chairwoman, in a release.

“As with all AFS programs, their focus will be intercultural learning, community service and language acquisition,” Darcy said.

AFS host families, exchange students and supporters in 2012-2013 were celebrated before students returned home in late June.

Linnea and Robert Keatts hosted the gathering to recognize student achievements and express appreciation for the local AFS volunteer team, exchange returnees and community members especially critical to a successful year for program students.

This past academic year, seven international students who came from Japan, Egypt, Denmark, Belgium, Pakistan, Kosovo and Germany were placed in homes in Dayton, Waitsburg and Walla Walla.

Several whipped up traditional foods for the buffet table, complemented by a goat, roasted for five hours, shredded and tossed with harissa on bed of white beans, hummus with flatbread, a roast beet and apple salad and candied nuts prepared by Graze Catering.

Following the meal, the students, Hannah Grosskopp, Dea Musliu, Takayuki Inoue, Kiran Noor, Sophie Damgren and Asmaa Ali answered questions from fellow guests about highlights of their stay.

“Many spoke fluently about first-ever experiences, closeness to host families and eagerness to give back when they return home,” Darcy said.

Linnea cited the support Valley schools give to the AFS exchange program students. Area high schools annually provide slots to be filled by international students. And, “counselors and teachers work to involve our students in classes and events where they will be successful and know they are playing a contributing part,” she said.

For more details about hosting or volunteering with the Walla Walla Valley AFS Chapter, contact Linnea at 525-0049 or

Supported by two grants, Whitman College students will expand their reach into and ties with the Walla Walla community by serving as science tutors at Walla Walla High School and interns at a number of local nonprofits and public agencies.

A $3,500 Pacific Power Foundation grant will help them provide greater academic support for AP science students at Wa-Hi through the new tutoring program. Whitman science students will earn stipends for tutoring Wa-Hi students enrolled in AP biology, chemistry, physics or environmental science.

“These funds will lay the groundwork for a tutoring/mentoring program designed to boost math and science performance in high school students to help them succeed in college, especially in STEM fields,” said Leena Knight, assistant professor of biology and faculty adviser for the program. “We’re hoping this program will strengthen ties between Whitman and Wa-Hi and help pave the way for future educational programs.”

All students currently enrolled in AP science courses at Wa-Hi will have the opportunity to take advantage of tutoring opportunities.

“Whitman continues to be a critical partner for the school district,” said Mark Higgins, communications director for Walla Walla Public Schools. “Having additional tutors working with our students will benefit our strategic plan, which challenges us to find resources within the community to improve our educational program.”

The tutoring program is designed to target high-achieving high school students so that they are better prepared for success at the college level. Funds will support stipends and training costs for Whitman tutors, incentives for Wa-Hi students and teachers, materials, supplies, food, marketing and an end-of-the-year celebration.

“The AP tutoring program is an important development in continuing to support science education in our community,” said Mary Burt, science outreach coordinator. “I’m very pleased that we have been able to respond to a request from teachers and administration at Wa-Hi to help college-bound students develop skills that will support success in rigorous college courses. This grant will also benefit our Whitman students by allowing us to offer them paid positions as mentors while giving them the opportunity to connect with our community and gain experience as educators.”

Whitman also recently received a grant from the Donald and Virginia Sherwood Trust to fund the continuation of the Community Fellows program, established last year as an experiential learning opportunity for Whitman students interested in working for local nonprofit organizations.

The program allows for a cohort of juniors and seniors to spend an academic year working to address some of the area’s most pressing social, economic and cultural challenges at public agencies and nonprofits that might not otherwise be able to afford to hire employees. In addition to their targeted work experience, Community Fellows receive professional mentoring and career development guidance, as well as the chance to network with local leaders.

“We are extraordinarily excited to be able to not only continue but enhance these very intensive yearlong projects for juniors and seniors at some of our community’s most creative and important nonprofit organizations,” said Noah Leavitt, assistant dean for student engagement. In its inaugural year, the program provided eight yearlong paid internship positions to Whitman students at organizations including Helpline, Department of Court Services, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce and others.

Noah said they hope to expand that into 10 positions this year. “This program lets us deepen our connection to very innovative local organizations that deal with issues students want to understand,” he said.

Milton-Freewater resident Kelsey Childers graduated May 4 with Corban University’s Class of 2013 in Salem. She was one of seven out of the 289 graduates nominated for a Distinguished Graduate Award.

She earned a bachelor’s in exercise science with a 3.99 GPA. She was on the dean’s list every semester and received the Human Performance Major of the Year Award. She participated in track and field all four years; was a long-jump and triple-jumper her freshman and sophomore years; ran distance events, including cross country, her junior and senior years. She received Cascade Conference Scholar Athlete awards and NAIA Scholar Athlete awards in track and cross country.

The 2009 McLoughlin High School alumna is working as a summer camp counselor. She is the daughter of Terry and Laurie Childers of Milton-Freewater.


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