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A Dream Fulfilled


As a senior at Heartland Community School, Inga Goebel, a foreign exchange student from Germany, is living her dream. That dream started in the 8th grade.

“I always wanted to live in America for one year,” Goebel said.  “I watched a lot about America on TV and I wanted to explore it and see if it was like what I saw on TV.”For three years Goebel researched, studied and gathered information from the internet to learn of organizations that could help fulfill her dream.   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. 

“My parents were so supportive of me coming to America.  They really liked the idea.  I am the first one in my family to travel to America,” 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.  Meanwhile, Kristen and Evan Friesen were becoming acquainted with EF from their home, by computer, in the small town of Henderson, NE.   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.  Through pictures and paperwork, Goebel met all their criteria.  In August, 2010, Goebel became a part of the Friesen family.

“We wanted to invite someone into our home outside of our culture.  Hosting Inga in our home has really taken us out of our small world in Henderson, NE,” said Kristen.  “Our children have loved having Inga here.   She’s like a big sister to Ella and Samuel.  We will all miss her when she’s gone.”

Even though Goebel (17), was beginning her 11th grade year in Germany, she qualified academically as a senior at Heartland Community School.   However, when she returns to her school in Germany, she will need to continue her education by completing the 12th and 13th grade.  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.   In Germany, academics occupy most of a student’s time.  There is little opportunity to pursue sports or the arts.  At Heartland, Goebel has taken full advantage of the extracurricular activities offered.  Goebel participated on the Heartland girls’ volleyball and basketball teams.

“I had a lot of fun doing sports here,” said Goebel.  “Basketball was hard because of all the different plays I had to learn, but I enjoyed being part of the team.”

Chorus and band have also been part of her busy life as a Heartland student.  Currently, Goebel spends her free time practicing for the upcoming high school musical.  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.  The Friesen’s have taken every opportunity to introduce Goebel to life in Nebraska.

“I’ve really had fun doing the farmer thing on the Friesen farm, like driving a four wheeler and riding in the combine,” said Goebel smiling.  “There’s much more agriculture here and it’s also much flatter,” she said.

Goebel has been so appreciative of the kindness of the people in Henderson.

“All the people have been so friendly and welcoming.   It feels like home to me.  I have new friends here.  The Friesens have become my family.  I love playing with Ella and Samuel and having them around me.  I’ve stopped thinking about Germany,” said Goebel.

Goebel has much to look forward to in her remaining time in America.  Her parents are coming from Germany in May for graduation.  The Friesen family will host them as they take in the sights around Henderson and Nebraska.  The Goebels also plan on renting a mobile home and traveling to other parts of America during the last part of their stay.

“This is their first time to America,” Goebel said.  “They would like to see San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon and other national parks.”

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.  But she’ll also be taking home the satisfaction of knowing she has fulfilled her dream of living in America.


Written by our Contributor Jo Larson


Photos Courtesy of Debbie Rowe



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