By Eric Norwood Jr.
PNT staff writer
Tom and Joan Brown of Portales had an interesting school year. Their son Isaac Brown, 17, participated in a foreign exchange program through Rotary International.
Isaac spent the school year in Jessen, Germany, while Tom and Joan hosted Monique Correa Marques Goncalves, 18, of Petropolis, Brazil.
The Brown family hosted Monique from last August through the end of May. They were instrumental in getting Monique acclimated to American life.
“We took her to concerts, she went with us on family trips, we even did Zumba together,” says Joan Brown.
While Monique was here, she attended Portales High School and took ELL (English Language Learner) classes there.
“She spoke Portuguese and barely knew any English. ELL helped her a lot,” says Joan Brown.
While the Brown family was helping a teenager get settled in America, their own teenager was in Germany getting settled himself.
Gone from September until June, Isaac stayed with a host family in Jessen, Germany, which is about twenty miles from Berlin. Isaac said some of the biggest differences between his host family and his real one was the language.
“Pretty much everyone in my host family was trilingual. They spoke a language that only about 500 people in the whole country knew.”
While Isaac was in Germany, he attended school, which was a unique experience within itself.
“I took English there, which was actually pretty advanced. Most of the people spoke pretty good English. In my computer science class, all of the commands and coding were in English, yet everyone spoke mostly German.”
In addition to school, Isaac did a lot of traveling overseas. “I visited Rome, Prague, Paris, Budapest, and Berlin plenty of times,” says Isaac. “I saw the Pope and the Vatican, which were pretty cool. I also got lost in Rome and had to ask directions,” he said with a chuckle.
Even though the legal drinking age in Germany is 16, Isaac didn’t partake. According to Joan Brown, Rotary had rules in place that said exchange students weren’t allowed to drink or date exclusively.
“I partied a couple times when I was there, but it really wasn’t my thing,” says Isaac.
Isaac enjoyed authentic German cuisine, and recommends the currywurst, which is pork sausage with a curry seasoning. “It’s so good”, says Isaac.
Isaac says he learned a lot on this trip and it will be beneficial for his future, which will start with his senior year of high school this August in Portales.
“The learning of other cultures will help me a lot. Even though I was in Germany, I met and made friends with other foreign exchange students from Thailand, Venezuela and other places. I intend to go back and visit after I graduate.”