Alpena Lions Club hears about foreign student exchange program

Steve Lutes of Alpena Power Company spoke to the the Alpena Lions Club recently about the work of ASSE Foundation. ASSE is an international organization that promotes exchange students between a number of countries.

Lutes has for many years enjoyed his hobby, volunteering making student placements, both in helping local students being placed in foreign countries and in foreign students being placed in Michigan. Program chair for the meeting was Vice President Amy Essex.

Lutes said that at present ASSE has 103 candidates looking for a host family, but this would only be true for less than a month, due to the startup of school for the fall. He said in the United

States, Michigan is the No. 1 state for hosting exchange students.

Alpena High School, he said, loves exchange students. The students come from 70 or 80 different countries. Some students receive scholarships from the U.S. State Department and many receive scholarships from their own countries. The system for qualifying as an exchange student is a complicated process. Lutes is one of the volunteers that helps students with that process.

Lutes has hosted an exchange student from Russia. He believes Americans fascinate Russians. As a result of that exchange he was invited to visit Russia by his student’s family. Ending up in a small city eight hours north of Moscow, he found the local citizens flocking to meet him, as they rarely get to see or meet an American.

Getting used to life in Alpena is always a surprise to exchange students. They have learned most about life here in the U.S. from watching TV, and they are expecting a glittery, fast-moving, big-city style of life. Some, especially women, have to adjust to our food. Many don’t know about fast food and are not used to so much sugar in foods.