If you wanted to travel the world and meet new people, it was just as easy to stop by in Traer. On November 10 from 1-3 p.m. at the North Tama Activity Center, people could talk to foreign exchange students at the Cultural Fair about their culture, knowledge, or about their life.
"The hope is that we will all learn about each other, gain respect for other religions and cultures and form friendships that will last for a lifetime. I believe we're building bridges of respect, understanding and friendship that will make the world a more peaceful place," says Marilyn Bauch, a local coordinator for the American Councils for International Education.
At the fair, there were six foreign exchange students from all over the world. Dina Kardovic is from Montengro, and she lives in Cedar Falls with the Mallaro family. Ksusha Yuzaya is from Russia, and she lives in Dysart with the Grimm family. Miljana Manojlovic is from Serbia, and she also lives in Dysart with the Sanford family. Pavel Gorbachev is from Russia, and he lives in Traer with the Scherrer family. Nadiya Stepanchenko is from Ukraine, and she also lives in Traer with the Casto family. Dwiki Ristando is from Indonesia, and he lives in Cedar Rapids with the Bardon family.
Pictured left to right: Pavel Gorbachev, Nadiya Stepanchenko, Ksusha Yuzaya, Miljana Manojlovic, Dina Kardovic, and Dwiki Ristando.
"I think it is beneficial to the community, including students at North Tama, to be exposed to students whom come from a different culture and who have different perspectives on things," says Sharon Scherrer, a local coordinator for the American Council. Scherrer has also hosted a few exchange students over the past years. "We don't have a lot of diversity here in Traer and it is a tremendous learning opportunity to interact with people from other parts of the world."
At the cultural fair, people had the opportunity to mingle with the six foreign exchange students. Each student prepared a presentation about homeland complete with photos, books, clothing, artifacts, and even had some authentic food for people to try. People from Traer and other communities came to the fair to know these students better. Students were asked about Iowa and what they liked.
"What I like most about Iowa is the people. The people are helpful and friendly. When I came here, I didn't know some stuff, like the language. When I asked around for help, everyone was helpful and kind to help me out to know the language better," says Gorbachev.
This is the fourth fair hosted by North Tama and Bauch hopes to continue this for years to come.
"We are always looking for host families," says Bauch. "Busy families are the right ones. We hope to keep this tradition for years to come."