Rose sounds like an average 15-year-old girl.
She enjoys shopping and chatting with friends. A sophomore at South Nodaway, her favorite subject is art and she was recently nominated as princess by her classmates for Courtwarming.
Typical teenager… Except for one big difference.
She’s living 6,561 miles from home.
Wenqing Wang, or Rose, the American name she received from her kindergarten teacher, is an exchange student from Beijing, China.
She arrived in Missouri on January 5 and will be staying with her host family, Barnard residents Dick and Judy Ross, through the end of this school year.
Rose said she wanted to come to the United States for the experience, both to learn and to share.
“(I wanted) to get to know more about Americans and the culture,” she said. “I know a lot of things about traditional Chinese culture and I’d love to share them with the people in the USA. The Chinese spring festival is coming and I am looking forward to sharing that with my American family.”
So far, she said her experience has been “pretty cool” and the best part has been school and the students. One thing she is especially enjoying is being a part of the band at South Nodaway. She plays the piano and is very musical, but didn’t play a traditional band instrument. Band Teacher Tamra Davis wanted to make a spot for her, so she is playing various percussion instruments and will have the opportunity to travel with the band to Columbia in March, when they play at the state basketball games.
Just a few weeks into her experience, the hardest part has naturally been the English language. While she has been learning English since she was five years old, she’s still finding it to be somewhat difficult and trying to learn many new words.
Rose’s path to Barnard started when South Nodaway School Board Member Macia Kemper saw a Facebook post that she needed a host family for the semester. She was scheduled to leave China on January 2, but would not be able to come if a host family was not found.
Kemper originally volunteered to host her but her home did not meet the specifications set up by the Council on International Educational Exchange.
“I was so disappointed and sent out an e-mail to the community asking for someone to volunteer to host,” she said.
Kemper’s parents, the Rosses, volunteered right away.
“They thought it would be a great experience for our family and the South Nodaway community,” she said.
They are trying to help Rose experience whatever she has an interest in learning about while she’s in the US, Kemper said.
“She is excited and interested in new experiences,” she said. “It is a lot of fun to introduce her to everything ‘American.’”
Through Kemper’s experience with Rose, she learned the CIEE program did not have a representative in the area and so she decided to become a certified local coordinator.
“I look forward to working with host families and students,” she said. “I know it will be a rewarding experience.”
The CIEE USA High School program brings over 1,400 international students to communities across the US each year and is the largest and longest-running sponsor of exchange programs.
Kemper said the program is already seeking host families for the 2014-15 school year.
“We currently have boys and girls available from Italy, Thailand, Spain, Germany, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, Czech Republic, Vietnam and Finland, but we work with 55 countries and are expecting many more applications in before summer,” she said. “We are looking for host families of all shapes and sizes.”
Students have their own spending money and insurance, so host families only need to provide a loving, stable home, bed and meals, Kemper said.
“By deciding to host now, you can communicate with your new family member for several months before they actually land in the US,” she said.
For more information, contact Kemper at 816.294.5785 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ciee.org/highschool.
South Nodaway students Eryn Kemper, Hannah Wilmes and Miya Wiederholt take a break from shopping with Rose.