International students, teachers visit St. Anthony

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After attending an International Youth Summit in St. Anthony’s sister city Salo, Finland in 2009, High School Principal Wayne Terry decided it would be a valuable learning experience to hold an International Youth Summit at St. Anthony Village High School.

And last week, Sept. 26-30, 44 Teachers and students from Salo, Finland; Puchheim, Germany; Nagykanizsa, Hungary; and Rhjev, Russia attended the summit. During school hours the guest students shadowed St. Anthony students to classes and the guest staff observed the classes of their choice.

Monday evening was a community reception and welcome ceremony. A prelude and national anthems were played by the high school band. There were special welcomes from guest speakers: US Sen. Amy Klobuchar (via video from Washington DC), State Representative Mindy Greiling, School Board President Barry Kinsey, Terry, Community Services Director Wendy Webster, and St. Anthony Mayor Jerry Faust, who ended his talk with “Thank you for being good citizens of the world.”

There were greetings from each of the guest countries. Reinhard Schlaup from Germany said, “If we would have known how much fun we would have, we would have come a week earlier.”

Lunches were sponsored by different community groups, with programs presented by the guests about their home cities and schools. Monday lunch was at the high school sponsored by St. Anthony Sister City Association. Tuesday was at Wilshire Park Elementary school sponsored by the St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. Wilshire Park students made flags of each country and kindergarten students sang a welcome song, 1st grade sang a song in Finnish, 2nd grade in Hungarian, 3rd grade in Russian, 4th grade in German, ending with the 5th grade singing “This land is Your Land.”

Wednesday lunch at the Community Center was sponsored by the St. Anthony Kiwanis. At their program, Mayor Jerry Faust gave the guests a St. Anthony Village history book and a St. Anthony Village pin. Wednesday evening the guests attended a Minnesota Twins game with their host families and Thursday they toured Minnesota landmarks and spent some time shopping at Mall of America. They also attended some school sports activities including a dodgeball game in which the German students, who had not played dodgeball before, made up a team of their own and challenged the St. Anthony team.

Friday afternoon was the closing ceremony where the guests were given plaques and thank yous.

The band played each country’s national anthem and the chamber choir sang the USA national anthem. The chamber choir ended with “May the road rise up to meet you…..May the God that loves us all hold you in the palm of his hand.” Friday evening guests attended the homecoming football game and were introduced at half time.

Students from Germany point to their flag on the welcome poster that was prepared for their visit to the International Youth Summit that was held in St. Anthony last week.

Patrick Azizi, a student from Germany, said he’d “like to stay here forever.” He said said he was impressed with St. Anthony’s technology and with the respect students show their teachers.

Reinhard Schlaup (Germany), who teaches IT, English and physical education, said he is impressed with how proud St. Anthony students are of their school, that the friendships made will be more than just Facebook. He said, “It was the best time I’ve ever had in school,” and he has attended a lot of schools. He praised the host families, and said Terry is “the best principal I’ve ever met.”

Henna Kvist (Finland) teaches history, social studies and religion at Moisio middle school, and said she loved students, teachers and everyone here, that her host Mary Breen was an “amazing host” and and that she didn’t want to leave.

Susanne Prams (Germany) teaches English and French, and said she enjoyed the warmhearted welcome and was moved by the singing in all the languages by Wilshire School students. She said they “will tell lots of stories when they get home.”

Liisa Ahonen (Finland) teaches history and social studies, and said she was very moved by the band playing the national anthems and the singing by the students at Wilshire Park school. She was impressed with how well the whole week went.

Ildiko Tollar (Hungary) teaches business science, economics, accounting and statistics and is the assistant director (principal) at her school. She said she enjoyed how colorful and interesting St. Anthony classrooms are.

St. Anthony student David Busacker said, “We learn to appreciate culture that isn’t ours.”

Alex Gulachek said “it’s been a great week and makes our homecoming even better than before.”

Ellie Zeller and Lydia Sudki said they “laughed so much together” with the guests. The Hungarian guests prepared “an amazing meal” for her family.

The students from Rhjev, Russia each had a favorite: Roman Tavetkov, football game; Anna Zvonkova, American people; Ekaterina Faer, school system; Ekaterina Bulygina, volleyball game; Kristina Bryleva, friendly people; Evgenia Durmanova, school and host families; Kirill Vorona, American football.

Terry said everything about the youth summit was “absolutely fantastic” and he is very proud of St. Anthony students and staff.