ADIRONDACK Tobias Loeffler brought his friend Thomas Jansen with him from Germany to watch his North Warren friends graduate from high school.
Loeffler was an exchange student in 2006, living with Terry Grazda of Adirondack while attending classes at North Warren. While he was here, he made friends with several local students and they have been visiting each other since Loeffler returned to Germany.
It gives you a new perspective on life, Loeffler said. Like putting on a second pair of glasses.
Four North Warren students visited Loeffler and stayed with his family in Neuss, Germany over spring break.
Interacting with exchange students has been one of the most remarkable experiences of not only high school, but my life, said Jenn Beckler of Pottersville. I got closer to the people I traveled with and made some amazing new friends when we went to Germany.
Grazda is the local representative for AYUSA, a global youth exchange program and she is looking for families to host exchange students for five and 10 month visits. AYUSA students come from many countries and are between 15 and 18 years old. They can speak, read and write in English, are enthusiastic learners and have their own pocket money.
It opens the world to the kids here and the exchange students experience a different culture, Grazda said. You get a different version of the holidays and learn about life in their country.
Loeffler said his home city of Neuss is one of the oldest cities in Germany and very different then life in the Adirondacks.
I like the connection of the people in a small town, he said. I miss the nature here when I go home.
Jansen had met the North Warren students when they came to Germany last spring, and visited with them again during his visit here.
Now we have friends in America, he said.
It was real important to me to be there for this graduation, Loeffler said. I feel really close to this class and lots of them said they will come to Germany for my graduation next year. He said German schools have 13 years of education instead of 12.
Grazda said she would like to see 15 or 20 students find families to stay with for part or all of the school year. For information on becoming a host family for an exchange student, call her at 494-7558.