Foreign Exchange students enjoy attending Manistee County Schools

Foreign exchange students at Manistee High School are back row left to right: Cathy French Hanus, CETUSA community coordinator; Jonas Habel from Germany, Ellen Chen from China, ChaeEun Yun from South Korea, Stella Quan from China, King Kaewmanoromya from Thailand, Sampson Leung from Hong Kong. Middle row/table: Kathy Camacho from Equador, Magdalena Jox from Germany, Miguel Fernandez Garcia from Spain, Eduardo Mattos from Brazil, Max Minorati from Italy, Carolin Lessner from Germany, Fon Fakphu from Thailand, Whan Rengsomboonsuk from Thailand, Sara Yamamotto from Japan. Front row: Mads Sorensen from Denmark, Daniela Parazzi from Venezuela, Domenik Priebe from Germany, Eliza Zigric from Germany and William Wu from China.

MANISTEE — Walking down a hallway in many Manistee County Schools today takes on more of an appearance of a hallway in the United Nations than a small town American educational institution.

The reason for that is many families across the county have taken the initiative to become a host family to foreign exchange students. According to Manistee Council for Educational Travel USA (CETUSA) representative Cathy French Hanus, people are excited about the prospect of hosting a student from another country.

“It really has taken off, and the word is spreading through the community,” said French Hanus. “I actually have families searching out CETUSA to host now. The American students are actually asking their parents if they can get a foreign exchange student.”

French Hanus said she has been extremely happy with the response the foreign exchange students have received from their American counterparts. This year she placed 21 students at Manistee High School and six at Onekama High School. French Hanus said that six weeks into the school year they are already fitting in well.

“I have been so pleased with how the Manistee County students open up to them and accept them into their circle of friends,” said French Hanus. “They have made it very easy for these international kids to come in here to feel a part of what is gong on.”

People that would like to host a student should note that French Hanus has several openings for students coming in for the second semester of this school year. She is also open to setting up people to be hosts for the upcoming 2013-14 school year.

“We have second semester kids from all over Asia, Europe, South America and those students would come about the second week of January, and stay until school is out,” said French Hanus. “I can also begin placing students for the next school year in a couple of months and any Manistee County families can host a student whether they are in Bear Lake, Onekama, or Brethren.”

French Hanus said that CETUSA goes the extra step to make sure the student and the host family are a good match that works well for both parties.

“The students are well matched with the family,” French Hanus said. “So they all enjoy doing the same things together which is really neat. Usually after a couple of weeks the student is calling their host family mother and dad and brother and sister and everyone is joking with each other like they have been together for years.”

CETUSA also offers the students some trips they can go on during the school year to see some of the country. They have the option of going to New York, Hawaii or California, which takes the pressure off the host family to do those types of activities.

“I am still holding monthly events where we do fun things around the county, and this month we are going to eat pizza at Big Al’s Pizza and then go over to the ghost ship,” said French Hanus. “We do something that might be indicative of what Manistee has to offer, as we will all go to the Sleighbell Parade in December. Today I had lunch at school with the kids and they were all sitting around the conference table like a big group that has been together for a while. They are joking and they share about school, grades and the usually things.”

Foreign exchange students from Manistee High School are Jonas Habel (Germany), Ellen Chen (China), ChaeEun Yun (South Korea), Stella Quan (China), King Kaewmanoromya (Thailand), Sampson Leung (Hong Kong), Kathy Camacho (Ecuador)) Magdelena Jox (Germany), Miguel Fernandez Garcia (Spain), Eduardo Mattos (Brazil), Max Morati (Italy), Carolin Lessner (Germany), Fox Fakphu (Thailand), Whan Rengsomboonsuk (Thailand), Sara Yamamotto (Japan), Mads Sorenson (Denmark), Daniela Parazzi (Venequla), Domenik Priebe (Germany), Eliza Zigric (Germany), William Wu (China), Angela Irujo (Spain) and Juan Nuneze Sotelo (Spain).

Students at Onekama School this year are Hye In Park (South Korea), Jessica Roider (Switzerland), Co Co Wang (China), Lena Beier (Germany), Diego Ponce (Bolivia) and Markna Karlsdotter (Sweden).

Anyone looking to be a host family can contact French Hanus at (231) 233-3268 or they can find it on Facebook at the same name or by email at



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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