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Exchange students meet diplomat in Washington

Staff writer

Sophie Rebitzer, 17, a junior exchange student from Germany at Goessel High School last year spent five days in May at the nation’s capital with a 1998-1999 exchange student who now is a diplomat for the European Union.

Sophie is one of two exchange students in Kansas who made the May 19 to 23 trip to the District of Columbia.

Diplomat Eike Klapper, also from Germany, spent a year of high school at Inman.

Sophie’s host parents at Goessel are Carol Duerksen and Maynard Knepp. Both are coordinators of the Share high school exchange program.

Klapper is on the second year of a four-year diplomatic assignment to the United States, Duerksen said.

Duerksen said Sophie and Klapper found common ground not only “finding home away from home” and learning to live in a different culture experience but also because both grew up in the same country.

They identified with what it was like to come to American and do new things, Duerksen said.

Each had an incredible year in school, sport, scholars bowl, and other activities, she said.

“She came into our family as a stranger and left as a family member,” Duerksen said.

Duerksen, who has been host to exchange students for many years, said the bonds that formed between host parents and exchange students were unbreakable.

“Maynard just had a birthday, and we got a text from a girl we had 10 years ago in Kansas,” she said. “She talked on and on about what it was like in Kansas.”

More information on hosting exchange students is available by calling (620) 386-0709.

Last modified June 9, 2022

 

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