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Exchange students begin school year in Meridian area

By Staff
EXCHANGE STUDENT – Mary and Charles Bounds of Meridian and their 5-year-old granddaughter, Quanteia Nicole Hopson, opened their home to Nina Shears of Germany as part of the Program of Academic Exchange. Thirteen students from seven countries will spend the next 10 months living with area families. Photo by Lynette Wilson/The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Aug. 19, 2002
The biggest difference 16-year-old German foreign exchange student Nina Shears has seen between Meridian and her hometown of Erkrath is the look of the houses.
Shears spoke in a British accent she got from her British-born father; her mother is German. She is one of 13 foreign exchange students on a 10-month stay in the Meridian area.
Shears and three other girls were the last to arrive in Meridian on Friday afternoon as part of the Program of Academic Exchange, better known as PAX.
Ethridge said exchange students are spread all over the area this year as opposed to last year when students were kept to Meridian and Lauderdale County.
Yana Hristova, 18, is from Sofia, Bulgaria, and is living in Collinsville with Steve and Linda Dean. Hristova, 18, will be a senior at West Lauderdale High School.
The Deans have two sons of their own, ages 2 and 14. But that hasn't stopped them from making Hristova feel at home.
Of her host family, Hristova said: "They are great, I love my host family. They are spoiling me a lot."
Like Shears, the biggest difference Hristova has seen initially is the amount of space.
The other difference Hristova said she noticed is the lack of entertainment.
Things have been a little more chaotic for Anne Schattenburg, 16, of Hamburg, Germany. On Friday night her host mother, Lacy Heim, went into labor.
Heim went to hospital, and Schattenburg went to stay in Decatur with Heim's sister, who is hosting a student from Sweden.
Of her experience, Schattenburg said: "It's been okay, I'm not home sick because everything is new."

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