Darleen Sturm came a long way to have a Minnesota Christmas. Photo by Ruth Hanson.
By Ruth Hanson
When Darleen Sturm, a 16-year-old living in Bottrop in the western part of Germany, wanted to spend a year in the United States, her father said she was too young.
She says her English was very bad and she wanted to improve it.
That was last year. She wasn't accepted by AFS, so it didn't matter. Her mother always backed her in her wish, however.
The next year she applied without telling her father, but this time she was accepted.
"He finally decided I was old enough and he would pay for it," she said, with a smile that seems to be on her face most of the time.
"I love my host family," she said. "They are Eduardo and Sue Castellano and their kids, Giovanni, who is 12, and Danitza, who is nine. I really think I couldn't get a better host family. They are so nice."
And her best friend at Triton is Elena Sorato, an exchange student from Brazil. They were both cheerleaders in the fall.
Darleen loves sports and she plays on the basketball team.
"Even though we have lost every game, I'm proud to be on my team," she said. "I like the coach and my team."
She and Elena plan to play softball in the spring.
"When we get homesick, we understand each other," Darleen said. "We're not so homesick any more, but my birthday was hard. My host mother helped me over it, so I could be happy on my birthday. I had a delicious cake."
She smiled and added that she got a Triton sweater.
"From Germany I got a necklace from my mom that I wear every day," she said.
She wants to do something with math or sports when she finishes school.
She said that German kids can hardly wait to grow up and drink when they are 16.
"But I like being a teenager," she said. "I like snow, but not so much the cold. I had to buy warm clothes. Yesterday I bought boots."
She likes being in the Science Olympiad and in the Math League and, of course, AFS.
Christmas is coming and Darleen has learned that at her house she will have to wait till Christmas morning to open her presents. In Germany they open presents in the evening after church and dinner.
"I stand by my grandma at church and she sings loud," she said.
She likes "Stille Nacht," which was written in Germany, and "O Tannenbaum" and "Jingle Bells."
The relatives all get together for a big dinner. Last year it was turkey.
"I like cooking and I make the dessert," she said "My dad usually cooks."
She has made roulladen once here.
"I think I will make it again because they liked it," she said. "It was the first time to make it alone. It takes a long time."
She is looking forward to the church, the presents and the really special dinner here on Christmas.
"My mom is sending presents for my host family and for me," she said. "I sent a package to Germany - a Viking shirt for my brother Timmi. He is seven."
She hopes to go ice skating while she is living in Dodge Center and she wants to see hockey. She wanted to see football and did while she was cheerleading.
"In Germany I am in judo, so I like watching wrestling," she said. "I saw Lucas get his one hundredth win the other night. In Germany I do judo, soccer, swimming, archery and dance. I love doing sports. I want to do something with math or sports when I grow up."
She is taking Spanish and doing well.
"At the present I have straight As," she said. "I take personal finance, pre-history, drawing and design, chemistry, phy ed and pre-calculus. The work is easier than in Germany, unless I have to learn new vocabulary for the subject. The teachers are very nice. You can see that they have fun. And the kids are very nice to me."
She smiled again and was off to finish the personal finance class.