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Denmark Norway


Germany


Hannah Viste, Norway


Sebastian Lawrence, Denmark


Marco DeGaetano, Germany Electric cooperative members welcome foreign exchange students with open homes and open hearts Home Away From Home By Hayley Leatherwood “ N


owhere else can you go and live like we do in Oklahoma,” says Kelley Ridling, Kiwash Electric Cooperative member. Ridling would know—she’s the Oklahoma manager for a


high school student exchange program that brings hundreds of students to the United States from 30 different countries each year. Four of the students participating in the Council for Educational Travel


USA (CETUSA) program are a part of electric cooperative members’ households. Their previous impressions of America may have largely been based on shows depicting metropolises like New York, L.A. or Miami, but after spending a school year in rural Oklahoma, they have gotten a true taste for country living. Hannah Viste didn’t know much about the Sooner State before her arrival from Norway. Now just by glancing out her bedroom window, she’s likely to see horses, dogs or cattle in the fi eld surrounding her host family’s


home—and she loves the atmosphere. “It’s been amazing. I’ve learned so much, met so many people. I had no idea what to expect but it has blown away all my expectations. I am so glad I did it,” Viste says. The feeling is mutual from Viste’s host mother Kerrey Matlock,


Choctaw Electric Cooperative member. “For us as a family it made us see how to open our home up to other people,” Matlock says. “It’s so nice to give of yourself to someone who wanted so badly to come over here.” The Matlock household made an effort to incorporate Viste as one of their own as quickly as possible, and part of that process includes joining in on family chores. Lori McAnelly, CETUSA coordinator and Cotton Electric Cooperative


member, has been hosting students for nine years. She says she gives her students 48 hours to be a guest, and then it’s best they become one of the family.


Anne Granrusten, Norway


30 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


Photos by Hayley Leatherwood


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