MAPS Foreign exchange students visit Jefferson Elementary students

Juan Nunez and Miguel Fernandez who are both from Spain share a book with the Jefferson Elementary students. Manistee Area Public Schools foreign exchange students paid a visit to the elementary school as part of March Reading Month activities.

MANISTEE — Teachers always like to introduce the world to their students, but on Monday morning the world came to the first grade classrooms at Jefferson Elementary School Building.

It was all part of the March Reading Month activities at the school and principal Jason Traviss said school officials felt it might be interesting for his students if they did something a little different this year. They invited the foreign exchange students attending Manistee High School to read and talk with the students.

“We started meeting in early February to prepare for reading month, and we usually have few meetings before we hit the ground running on March 1,” said Traviss. “We always have guest readers, and in the past we did high school athletes or National Honor Society students. We always try to get older kids in our district to come in and read, as they love to do that and the kids here love to have those kids read. One of our para pros had the idea this year, because our theme is ‘Travel the Road to Reading,’ to have foreign exchange students come over to read to the kids.”

Traviss said they worked with high school principal Andy Huber and local CETUSA (Council for Educational Travel USA) Northern Community coordinator Cathy French Hanus and the ISE (International Student Exchange) people on it. They were able to get 21 foreign exchange students on board for the program. They will be stopping by Jefferson Elementary School a few at a time on Mondays during March.

“We decided to have them come over to read to first graders one Monday, second graders the next week, and third graders the final one,” said Traviss. “The kids who are here have varying degrees of English speaking, so we have a few different kinds of things that they can do. We have them reading grade level appropriate books and we have even found some books that talk about the country where they live. It was something we really left open with the emphasis on connecting a book to where they are from and their experiences.”

Jefferson Elementary School students seemed to like the opportunity to find out more about the world in the process. They questioned the students about their lives after having a story read to them. It was something that proved to be fun for both the Jefferson students as well as the foreign exchange students.

“It was really nice and was different,” said Colombian Foreign Exchange student Linda Gallego. “The elementary schools here are mainly bigger than the ones I come from in Columbia. Every grade in my school has only like 30 people, so this is really huge.”

The other students said they also enjoyed reading to the Jefferson Elementary students and fielding their questions. Students were asking what they eat, drink, and what their homes were like where they live.

All of the foreign exchange students felt that the elementary schools were similar to those in their own country.

Gallego was joined on Monday by Eduardo Mattos from Brasil, Juan Nunez and Miguel Fernandez from Spain and Alberone Ferriera from Brasil. Nunez, Mattos and Fernandez are CETUSA students and Gallego and Ferriera are ISE students.

Students going the other two Mondays are: Carolin Lessner from Germany, Max Minorati from Italy, William Wu from China, Domenik Priebe from Germany, Cami Cerimele from Argentina, Angela Irujo from Spain, Fon Fakphu from Thailand, Whan Rengsomboonsuk from Thailand, King Kaewmanoromya from Thailand, Sara Yamamoto from Japan, Ellen Chen from China (all are CETUSA students) and Lucas Klotz from Brasil, Niclas Schwarzlose from Germany (both from ISE).



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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