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Exchange students take younger peers ‘around the world’

Caledonia — “Bugs, bugs, bugs. I like bugs,” Caledonia High School exchange student Tamia Burger read to a group of second-graders at Paris Ridge Elementary. 

After reading each line of the book, “I Love Bugs!” by Philemon Sturges once in English, she read them again in German, her native language. 

“Käfer, käfer, käfer. Ich mag Käfer,” Tamia said. 

Principal Lance Jones tried pronouncing “käfer,” the German word for “bug,” for his students and Tamia said he did a really good job. 

Tamia and fellow CHS exchange student Julia Engel Hernandes, from Brazil, volunteered to read to K-4 students at Paris Ridge to celebrate March is Reading Month.

“Our theme for ‘March is Reading Month’ is ‘Around the World’ and they are literally from around the world,” Jones said.

The two students took turns reading spring-themed books, in English and in their native languages.  One fourth-grader said Julia’s reading of “We Love You, Little Critter!” by Mercer Mayer in Portuguese sounded similar to Spanish. 

‘Our theme for (Reading Month) is ‘Around the World’ and they are literally from around the world.’

— Principal Lance Jones

Following each reading, students asked Tamia and Julia questions about their home countries and the differences between them and living in Caledonia. 

“Do you see adorable pets where you live?” Audrey asked.

Tamia explained how many of the animals she sees in Germany are the same as Michigan, like dogs, cats and deer.

“We have monkeys in Brazil, a lot of monkeys,” Julia said.

Both high schoolers agreed one of the biggest differences between their home schools and going to school in Caledonia was the opportunity to play school sports teams.

“I ran cross country in the fall and am currently playing on the lacrosse team with Julia,” Tamia said.

“My favorite part of living in Michigan is being involved in sports, like skiing and lacrosse, and getting to be part of a team,” Julia paused to think further. “But also seeing the snow.” 

Caledonia High School exchange students read to Paris Ridge Elementary students in English and their native languages for March is Reading Month

Read more from Caledonia: 
Tuning, tempo and treble clef: Teen musicians leading the way for younger counterparts
Kindergarten language arts unit gets royal treatment

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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