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Exchange students experience Christmas Meridian-style

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Nov. 29, 2001
Judy Guerron has made about 30 Christmas ornaments this week, including some with the colors of her country Ecuador.
She has also stapled sheets of fake snow onto the deck of a 40-foot trailer that will serve as a float for her and five other foreign exchange students who want to add an international flavor to tonight's Christmas parade.
The float will feature a Christmas tree with handmade ornaments. Flags from the United States and the exchange students' home countries will surround the bottom of the float.
The float will carry exchange students and their local host families. "Exchange Students Rock Around the World for Christmas" is the title of the entry; the parade's theme this year is "Rock 'n' Roll Christmas."
Sheila Ethridge, community coordinator for the PAX Academic Exchange program which matched students with host families said many exchange students have never seen a Christmas parade and don't know what to expect.
But, Ethridge said, they are all enthusiastically getting involved. The entire concept of a Christmas parade, she said, "has been a foreign experience for many of them."
Christmas for the students is not a foreign matter.
Nana Tucker of Sierra Leone, a junior at Meridian High School, doesn't see any difference between the holiday in the United States and at home. Tucker is the guest of Mary and Charles Bounds of Meridian.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at