By Jacki Wood

With a desire to improve her English and learn about American culture, Isabel Metzger left the city life of Solingen, Germany, last August and immersed herself in the rural life of Hopkins as an exchange student at North Nodaway.

“I wanted to improve my English and learn about the different culture and the people,” Isabel said.

The population of Solingen is over 160,000 while Hopkins is about 500. But there are other differences as well, she said.

“There is a lot of nature here and the food is different,” she said. “The school is also different. But the climate is the same.”

Isabel is not just adjusting to life in a small town, but to life on a farm as well.

While in Missouri, she is living with the Brown family – Steven, a farmer, Samantha, a nurse practitioner, Saylor, age 12 in seventh grade, Saryn, age 10 in fifth grade, and Stetsyn, age eight in third grade.

“We both had foreign exchange students in our school system growing up and thought we could share the experience with our own children and community,” Samantha said.

“We like to travel and learn about other cultures and being a host family gives us firsthand experience with another culture.”

She said Isabel has taught them some German words and done some cooking for them. And the Browns have been able to share many new things with her as well.

“Having Isabel with us has been great,” Samantha said. “We have experienced many of her firsts such as horseback riding, gathering chicken eggs, watching a pig give birth and riding in the tractors, combines and grain trucks. She is very respectful and fun to be around.”

In Germany, Isabel played handball and liked to hang out with her friends. At North Nodaway, she is enjoying going to school, playing sports, spending time with her host family and making new friends.

She played volleyball with the West Nodaway co-op in the fall, currently plays basketball on the Mustangs girls team and plans to join the track team in the spring. She’s also involved in drama club.

“She has only played handball so watching her grow in our sports has been fun,” Samantha said.

While Isabel misses her family, dog, friends, handball and the bus system, she’s grateful for the exchange program and her time in the US.

“I think this is a good experience,” she said. “I live in a big city in Germany and now I live on a farm and I am experiencing the farm life.”

To learn more about becoming a host family or being an exchange student, visit

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