â€œI always wanted to live in America for one year,â€ Goebel said. Â â€œI watched a lot about America on TV and I wanted to explore it and see if it was like what I saw on TV.â€For three years Goebel researched, studied and gathered information from the internet to learn of organizations that could help fulfill her dream. Â Â Finally before the beginning of her 11th grade year, after much paper work, phone calls and interviews, the door opened through an organization called Education Foundation or EF.
â€œMy parents were so supportive of me coming to America. Â They really liked the idea. Â I am the first one in my family to travel to America,â€ said Goebel smiling.
Goebel became acquainted with EF and the possibilities of living in America through her computer in her home in Netphen, a small town of about 2,000 in northern Germany. Â Meanwhile, Kristen and Evan Friesen were becoming acquainted with EF from their home, by computer, in the small town of Henderson, NE. Â Â The Friesens who have two children, Ella (7 ) and Samuel (3) had a desire to bring a foreign exchange student into their home for one year.
The Friesens had the opportunity to study the different candidates and decide who would be the best fit for their family. Â Through pictures and paperwork, Goebel met all their criteria. Â In August, 2010, Goebel became a part of the Friesen family.
â€œWe wanted to invite someone into our home outside of our culture. Â Hosting Inga in our home has really taken us out of our small world in Henderson, NE,â€ said Kristen. Â â€œOur children have loved having Inga here. Â Â Sheâ€™s like a big sister to Ella and Samuel. Â We will all miss her when sheâ€™s gone.â€
Even though Goebel (17), was beginning her 11th grade year in Germany, she qualified academically as a senior at Heartland Community School. Â Â However, when she returns to her school in Germany, she will need to continue her education by completing the 12th and 13th grade. Â She then plans to attend a university there.
Goebel looks forward to graduating with her new friends at Heartland and is making the most of her senior year here. Â Â In Germany, academics occupy most of a studentâ€™s time. Â There is little opportunity to pursue sports or the arts. Â At Heartland, Goebel has taken full advantage of the extracurricular activities offered. Â Goebel participated on the Heartland girlsâ€™ volleyball and basketball teams.
â€œI had a lot of fun doing sports here,â€ said Goebel. Â â€œBasketball was hard because of all the different plays I had to learn, but I enjoyed being part of the team.â€
Chorus and band have also been part of her busy life as a Heartland student. Â Currently, Goebel spends her free time practicing for the upcoming high school musical. Â Prom and graduation are filling her mind and schedule in the weeks ahead.
Being a student at Heartland is not the only part of her stay Goebel has enjoyed. Â The Friesenâ€™s have taken every opportunity to introduce Goebel to life in Nebraska.
â€œIâ€™ve really had fun doing the farmer thing on the Friesen farm, like driving a four wheeler and riding in the combine,â€ said Goebel smiling. Â â€œThereâ€™s much more agriculture here and itâ€™s also much flatter,â€ she said.
Goebel has been so appreciative of the kindness of the people in Henderson.
â€œAll the people have been so friendly and welcoming. Â Â It feels like home to me. Â I have new friends here. Â The Friesens have become my family. Â I love playing with Ella and Samuel and having them around me. Â Iâ€™ve stopped thinking about Germany,â€ said Goebel.
Goebel has much to look forward to in her remaining time in America. Â Her parents are coming from Germany in May for graduation. Â The Friesen family will host them as they take in the sights around Henderson and Nebraska. Â The Goebels also plan on renting a mobile home and traveling to other parts of America during the last part of their stay.
â€œThis is their first time to America,â€ Goebel said. Â â€œThey would like to see San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon and other national parks.â€
Goebel will return home to Germany in June, taking with her a lot of pictures and memories of Heartland school, special friends, and her Nebraska family. Â But sheâ€™ll also be taking home the satisfaction of knowing she has fulfilled her dream of living in America.
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