Coming to U.S. was dream come true for German student

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For Lea Deutschman, from Dresden, Germany, her dream of coming to the U.S. to study as a foreign exchange student was about seven years in the making. That dream came true recently, when she arrived at the Robert and Lori Schutte home in Mabel and enrolled at Mabel-Canton High School. 

“I wanted to travel. I learned about foreign exchange programs through You-Tube. I told my parents nearly seven years ago that I wanted to travel to the U.S. and go to school,” Lea recalled. “They supported me and helped me with all the paperwork required. I was actually in Switzerland, attending a church convention with about 5,000 students when I got the call that I had been accepted and that I was going to Minnesota.”

Lea obviously knew nothing about Mabel, being a resident of Dresden, Germany. But thanks to the internet, she was able to learn that Mabel was a very small rural community in southeast Minnesota.

“Just 700 people? I really wondered how that would be,” she said with the smile. “I was concerned at first, but it is so beautiful here and so quiet. I’m really starting to enjoy being here.”

Dresden is a city of half a million residents, located in extreme eastern Germany, near the border with the Czech Republic.

Lea comes from a family of four. She has an older brother, who is 21. Her mother is a nurse and her father is a business executive, spending part of his time in Dresden, and the rest in Berlin. While Lea attends school in Dresden, she and her family spend quite a bit of time in Berlin as well.

One of the biggest differences Lea noted between Dresden and Mabel (besides size, of course) is transportation. She explained that “back home” she and her friends could jump on a metro bus or train to go shopping, out to eat or a movie. In Mabel, there isn’t any public transportation.

“Here, you have to plan ahead. You need to find rides just about anywhere you want to go,” she noted.

In Germany, Lea was active in club volleyball and also in her church. She explained that they don’t have athletics in schools like they do here. At M-C Lea will be participating in volleyball, basketball, softball, knowledge bowel, drama and choir.

She said she has found people here to be very friendly and helpful. Living with the Schuttes, who are also the host family for Stephany Aguirre, a foreign exchange student from Ecuador, is a wonderful situation. Both Lea and her Ecuadorian counterpart speak fluent English and have developed a great friendship.

When Lea returns to Germany next summer, she still has three years of high school ahead of her. She plans to further her education in college, but isn’t sure yet what she will be majoring in.