LAKEWOOD RANCH — As thousands of East County students return to school this week, most do so with understandable anxiety. New teachers, class schedules and bus routes can combine for a tense few days.
But for Lakewood Ranch High School sophomore Louisa Sinz, that doesn’t even begin to explain the ball of nerves that sat in the pit of her stomach as the new school year began.
Sinz, 15, is an exchange student from Germany who will be spending the year with the Rich family in Summerfield. And while her new classmates were perusing clothes racks at the mall for that all-important first-day outfit last week, Sinz was on a 27-hour journey to the United States. She arrived Aug. 19.
“My last vacation, I was with some friends here and liked it very much,” Sinz said. “Of course, I want to learn more about the traditions and the language.”
And that’s just what her host family hopes to share. The Rich family includes mother Debbie, a regional adviser for CASE Student Exchange, father Brandon, and sons Bryce, 9, and Talan, 3. Both Bryce and Talan say they are excited to have a big sister. In fact, it was at Bryce’s suggestion that the Rich family decided to host Sinz this year.
“It just sounded like a good idea, really,” Bryce said of hosting.
Like many of Florida’s visitors, Sinz said the climate is what attracted her to the state.
“I love the sun and warm weather,” she said. “So this sounded like the right place.”
The Riches plan to make the most of their time with Sinz. Already regular Florida travelers, they plan to take Sinz to Sea World, Walt Disney World, the Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo and, of course, the area’s world-famous beaches.
“Hopefully, we can even get down to the Keys,” Debbie Rich said.
In addition to learning about American culture and fulfilling her core academic duties, Sinz also plays the saxophone and hopes to be able to perform while at Lakewood. She was interested in cheerleading, but because tryouts were held in the spring, she cannot be a part of the team.
However, she also has her eye on other ways to play as a Mustang.
“I want to try softball,” she said.
According to Rich, the Manatee school district allows up to four exchange students per school. Another CASE student, Chatthinee Sookying, will be attending Lakewood from Thailand.
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
Cultural Academic Student Exchange is a non-profit, educational and cultural organization that helps bring foreign teens together with volunteer host families in the United States. This is the second year CASE is placing students in Florida.
CASE always is looking for volunteer host families.
For more information about CASE, visit www.case-usa.org or contact Debbie Rich at 896-5230 or 1-888-430-4795.