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Spring Lake High School's student-staffed publication

The Laker Anchor

The Laker Anchor

Seniors Dont Know How to Act - Graduation
Seniors Don't Know How to Act - Graduation
Lily Zuelke, Reporter • May 8, 2023

A Peek Inside a Host Family’s Life


Ever wondered what it’s like to have a sibling from across the globe? Hosting an exchange student isn’t just about opening your home, it’s about opening your world to, frankly, someone you barely know. 

From 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 16th to 10 a.m. on Sunday May 26, seven Spring Lake families welcomed seven Dutch students to America. 

With matches made in Nov. 2023 based on a personality exam, pairs had a plethora of time to get to know each other. I even had the opportunity to meet my exchange student, Polina Alexandrov, in Barcelona over Christmas Break, but even then, nothing prepares you for the first night a stranger sleeps in your house. 

Amaya Wiseman (host) and Polina Alexandrov (exchange student) try Chick-fil-a in downtown Chicago.

Equally difficult is picking what activities there are to do in the small town Spring Lake. The beach. Target. The lake. Additionally, while American students were at school, Dutch students took day trips to Grand Rapids to Wood TV 8 and Frederick Meijer Gardens; Grand Haven to downtown and the beach; Spring Lake to pickleball and Central Park.

The final weekend, the whole exchange took a two night trip to Chicago. There, we went to a Cubs baseball game, visited the Bean, shopped, and tried authentic “Chicago style” pizza. You would be surprised how the exchange students found enjoyment in activities we would consider boring. The students often remarked on how many American flags they saw flying — a whole week before Memorail Day. 

In five days, on June 7, it happens all over again, this time in the Netherlands. The American students will fly instead act as the exchange students rather than the host, and vice versa for the Dutch students. A snippet of the itinerary includes the Anne Frank Museum, cheesemaking, the Rijksmuseum and a trip to the beach. 

The Spring Lake/Alkmaar trip is an annual trip that originated in 2021, although the idea for it was conquered in 2019 after David Thuene, the lead chaperone, worked abroad in the city of Utrecht and fell in love with it. There he met Marieke Kee, a teacher in the Netherlands, and together they planned a non-traditional exchange program, one in which both the American and Dutch students would act as exchange and host: 10 days in America and 10 days in the Netherlands.

This spring, seven families of Spring Lake sophomores and juniors hosted Dutch students. This is the second year of the program, after a long haitus during COVID-19, and organizers expect it to resume next year. 

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Amaya Wiseman, Editor-in-Chief
Amaya Wiseman is the 2023-2024 Editor-in-Chief
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