Putting some international flavor into the Anchorage School District, s group of young adults from around the world are here in Alaska as part of the AFS international high school student exchange, aprogram that's bridging cultures in an up close and personal way.
Although Christy and Brian Hedrick have never traveled overseas, you would never know it based on the interactions with their new house guest from Valencia, Spain, Ana Cuco Sanz, who is as cool as her name.
The 15 year old foreign exchange student says she wanted to come to the Last Frontier after her sister did the same thing in Indiana.
"It's very cold, like everybody says, but its very beautiful with a lot of mountains and trees," Ana said.
It wasn't just Alaska's picturesque views that brought her more than 5,200 miles. Ana will be going to Dimond High School for the entire year as part of the AFS-USA international student exchange program, an experience that puts host students and host families together to learn about each other.
"I want to learn the language, the culture, and I want to see new things," Ana said.
After hosting students from Italy and Germany, Ana is the third person the Hedricks have welcomed into their home.
"We picked someone who would fit in with the family," said Christy Hedrick.
Hedrick says there's minimum cost beyond giving the students support, meals, and a place to stay, unique opportunities the program says is a win-win for everyone involved.
"I think if you want to make a difference in the world, you have to open up your doors and let other people in," Hedrick said.
"I am impressed about how outgoing they are and just there interest and their curiosity and learning about a new culture," said Hannah Rosamond.
A new environment that Ana is quickly learning about.
"The people are different in America, they are like very friendly, and they always talk to you, in Spain in some schools they are different," Ana said.
And when asked if she would expect a lot of hugs on the first day of school, Ana laughed. "I don't know, maybe."
Whether its hugs or no hugs, its an exciting adventure Ana and her Alaskan family are happy to be a part of.
Ana is one of 38 students from all over the world who will be going to school in places like Fairbanks, Sitka, Juneau, Seward, and Anchorage. And beyond the sights, Ana does want to get involved in dancing and singing.
The AFS-USA program is in need of more host families and volunteers. For more information on the program click here.
Corey Allen-Young KTUU Channel 2 Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org 744-2642 cell