Experiences she?ll remember for a lifetime fluttered into the world of Nutta?porn Limnirunkul, such as cool snowflakes wafting to the ground.
Before arriving in the United States, the 18-year-old student had never seen snow because she?s from the warm climate of Thailand. Nutt, as she?s called, lived at the home of James and Carrie Reid of Newton through the Educational Resource Development Trust/Share High School Exchange Program during the past academic year.
One of Nutt?s favorite things in America was the snow.
?In my country, we don?t have snow,? Nutt said. ?I like snow here.?
Nutt had tried to make a big snowman while she was here, but she only could make one that was about 18 inches tall because the snow wouldn?t pack very well.
In addition to enjoying snow, Nutt also experienced other things for the first time while living in Newton. She tried fishing, camping, softball, varsity bowling and riding a scooter.
?She jumped in and would never be afraid to try anything,? Carrie said. ?She?s probably taken 5,000 pictures since she?s been here ? literally.?
Nutt had never been to America before arriving on Aug. 17, 2013.
?This is first time for me,? she said, sitting at the family?s dining room the day before she left the States on an early morning flight. ?I love it here, and I love my host family too.?
There seems to be a definite fondness between the Reids, Nutt and Nutt?s host sister, Michaela Robbins. They joke around and tease each other. For instance, when James picked on Nutt, she?d say, ?Good, my boyfriend get you.? She would refer to the family?s Golden Retriever, Chewy, as her boyfriend.
?It?s been a good year,? Carrie said.
?We love her,? James added. ?We?re going to miss her. We already told her if she wants to come back for college to just let us know. And her boyfriend will still be here.?
Nutt plans to become a dentist and did a one-day observation with a local dentist while she was in Newton. They all do plan to keep in touch.
Nutt also joked around with the family after she found a large box and said it?s big enough to take all of them back to Thailand with her.
In addition to becoming quite fond of someone from another country, both the family and Nutt have exposed each other to a variety of things, including food.
?She got us addicted to pad thai,? James said. Pad thai is a stir-fry dish with noodles.
Nutt also taught the family how to make sticky rice over a campfire, and she learned how to make s?mores. Nutt?s family grows rice in Thailand.
As a host family, the Reids and Robbins were instrumental in helping expose Nutt to America. They gave her the ?8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook,? which James recommends host families get for their students. The group traveled to a variety of locations in the book. For example, they got to bowl at the Seelye Mansion in Abilene.
?It?s been a lot of fun,? Carrie said.
Nutt also went to prom this year with a friend, and Brad Elliott of Realty Connections drove them there in his antique Chevy truck. Her high school experiences also included being a member of musical group Les Chantes, and she lettered in music. The NHS homecoming parade marked a first for her on a float ? until the rain started to pour.
Having such new situations in her life was one of the reasons Nutt wanted to visit America.
?I wanted to practice English so I can speak English because English is used around the world,? she said. ?Wanted to get a new experience and learn another culture.?
While here, Nutt made a lot of friends, Carrie said. For example, one day they went to the Braum?s drive-through, and people at both windows knew Nutt.
?Everybody knows her at the high school, seems like,? Carrie said.
During one softball game, Nutt was awarded most valuable player because at four times at bat, she hit the ball and made it on base four times.
At one point during the school year, Nutt was included in a playful ?kidnapping? when the softball team seniors, wearing Ninja Turtle masks, showed up at the Reid home and took Nutt (and other new students and freshmen) to Druber?s Donut Shop late at night.
Nutt learned things in America.
She learned ?that she doesn?t like touching snakes,? James said.
Nutt also was made aware of how many product choices American consumers have. When Nutt visited Wal-Mart for the first time, her eyes were quite huge, Carrie said, since she was amazed how many choices there were for the same products.
?I remember her eyes,? Carrie said. ?You were just like, ?Wow.??
Nutt was schooled on other matters.
?I learned English,? she said. ?And people here are more open-minded.?
?We?re just more open and not as modest,? Carrie added.
For example, at the Newton Activity Center swimming pool dressing rooms, people dressed in the open; in Thailand, people changed in small private rooms. It also took Nutt a month to wear shoes in the Reids? house because in Thailand, shoes aren?t worn in homes. In Thailand, students wear uniforms, while in America, public schools usually don?t require that.
In addition, there?s more options for classes in high school in the States, while students are told what classes to take in Nutt?s native country. ERDT/Share students enter school in America as seniors, Carrie said.
Newton wasn?t the only place in America Nutt experienced. She traveled to Colorado, where she skied, and took the Amtrak train to Chicago. She saw the tallest Christmas tree in Missouri, and traveled to the Sedgwick County Zoo, Topeka, Kansas City and Greensburg.
There are things Nutt will miss about America.
?Of course, (I?ll miss) my host family, friends, people I know here,? Nutt said.
And the Reids? cooking. And snow.
About the ERDT/Share program
During any given year, there are about 15-20 families involved in the ERDT/Share program in Harvey County.
?Share is very strong across the state of Kansas and is active in many states of the U.S.,? said Newton resident Mari Sailors, Exchange Program coordinator.
?I recruit host families, match host families with appropriate exchange students, work with local school districts and monitor the placement for the entire time the student is in the U.S.A.,? Sailors said. ?Additionally, I plan fun events, such as parties and trips, for our students to participate in while they are here.?
The application process requires an in-home interview and a host family application that incorporates a background check on people 18 and older in the home. References are a must.
?I truly believe that there is a student match for most families who wish to host,? Sailors said. ?We encourage one-parent and single-parent families with and without children in the home to apply. The most important quality is a genuine desire to open your home to a teenager from across the world and treat them as a member of your own family.?
Host families are volunteers who host out of the goodness of their hearts, providing room and board, and students pay for all extras and have their own medical insurance.
ERDT/Share is a non-profit group that works to provide successful cross-cultural homestay experiences. In addition to providing inbound long-term exchanges, Share has other programs, such as outbound programs, sending American youth and young adults to other countries for volunteer work and exchange programs.
Sailors and her husband started hosting teens when their daughters, now 16 and 18, were 1 and 3.
?It has changed our lives and shaped our entire family into people who truly love and appreciate the world,? Sailors said.
Those wishing to become host families can call 800-715-3738 or Sailors at 316-727-6478.