Simon Korte traveled from his homeland of Germany and Jacabo Maria Trabada from his home in Spain to visit the United States.
Both young men are residing in the Brownstown home of Jessica Rittis and Daniel Barker while attending Brownstown High School.
Simon and Jacabo are pleasant, courteous and friendly as they share their impressions and views of the United States … and Brownstown.
Meet Simon and Jacobo, who both seem to be good ambassadors for their countries.
… lives in the German town of Kandern.
“It lays in the state Baden-Wuvthem, in the area of Lovach. The population is about 8,735 people. My town has a right to call itself (a) city, because it was very important for people, because they make a lot of ceramics.
Simon has two sisters, ages 13 and 6, and one brother, 11.
His father is 46 and is a teacher in Kandern, and his mother works at home. “We also have a little black and white cat,” he said.
School Here & There
“My school is a private school,” he said. “We have the usual subjects, gardening and working with wood.
Their school program differs some from Brownstown in various ways. They work hands-on, such as actually working on farms to learn about agriculture. His class was even televised during a farming class.)
In his school, they have 15-minute breaks during classes. “I love lunch break, and we learn a lot of experiments that we make with the teacher (biology, chemistry, math, etc.)”
“I have about 500 people in my school and my favorite subjects are P.E. and math,” he said.
“The difference in Brownstown is we have every day school to 3 o’clock. (In Germany), we have it just one to three times a week, and we have time during the classes.”
“Playing basketball and hanging out with friends,” he said. “I am playing in Lovvad YMCE basketball. I have practices three to four times a week the whole year.”
Simon likes Brownstown for the fact that “it is not that big, and the food is all good, but my favorite is double cheeseburgers and French fries at “Mark’s (Café in Brownstown).”
Jessica Rittis, of his host home, described Simon as being “very intelligent, loves basketball and he loves to eat at Mark’s.”
Through Simon she learned that the Aldi chain actually began in Germany, and that some of the foods also are labeled with German language as well as English, and also that many of the desserts are of German origin.
“Madrid is a city situated in the center of Spain, on the top of a plateau, and that is why Madrid is the highest capital in Europe. Madrid has the largest population in Spain, 3.3 million inhabitants, and the entire population of Madrid metropolitan is 6.5 million inhabitants, the third largest in Europe,” he said.
“Regardless, with its modern structure, Madrid conserves landmarks, including the Royal Palace, Retizo Park, the national library and several museums.
“Madrid is also home of the best soccer team in the world. Madras experiences a Mediterranean climate. Madrid’s economy is based in its service sector, geared toward companies transport and commodities.
“In my family, we keep the union, because in Spain, its kind of weird (to me) when marriages get divorced, so my parents, who are around 50 years old, are still married and living happily together. My dad is a lawyer and my mom is a teacher.
“My oldest brother (20 years old) is studying to be a lawyer also. Right now he is in the university, he also works in a Mexican restaurant.
“He is still living with us, which is normal in Spain. We don’t send our sons and daughters miles and miles away. I have a sister who is 14 and a brother who is 8 years old.
School Here & There
“My school has more than 1,300 students and its name is Maristis. I go there walking every day with some friends, even if its 20 miles walking, which here, seems to mean a lot.
“I come home every day at lunch time to my house, because we have time to socialize, not just 30 minutes. The food at my school is better and more abundant than here, but I prefer to eat at my house.
“There are no lunch cards in my school, but your fingerprint,” Jacobo said.
“Another difference is, you stay the whole day in the same (classroom) with the same students who are your age, and the teachers come to your class , except for PE and Laboratory, which are my favorite subjects.
“I basically like hanging out and playing soccer – that’s all I need to be happy,” Jacobo said.
“People in Brownstown always have been very nice to me,” Jacobo said. “And about the food, what I most like is the American breakfast. I bet I could eat breakfast food for lunch and supper,” he said.
Spain’s Traditions & Events
“Best known among Spain’s folk traditions are flamenco and bullfighting. Flamenco is the musical tradition in the country, especially in the South, and the fundamental elements are the guitar and the pat.
Jacobo did not want to discuss bullfighting, its morality, and how he feels about it, but he said that among the most popular events is the “Running of the Bulls” during the Sanfermires in Pamdona.
“Some outstanding events are ‘Las Falles de san Jose,’ in Vanencia, when the city becomes the scene of an enormous party with lots of good mod and excellent fireworks. Carnival is also an important party in Spain, which is kind of Halloween, but not that creepy,” he said.
“Due to Catholic tradition, during Seomana Sonta, (Easter week), there are several processions with statues of saints and virgins in every town and village.”
Host mom Jessica Rittis said, “ They are such wonderful boys. Jacobo’s family has a maid that takes care of the house and cooking. He has been learning some of the basics of housework and, “he is a good cook.”
She said that their different personalities are similar to the different personalities of the members of her family members.
She also said, “They both like to eat, and when we took them shopping in Effingham and stopped at Ryan’s Restaurant, they asked us if we could wheelbarrow them to the car. We are learning so much from them.”
That is a great fringe benefit when people open their homes to exchange students as their host families.
It seems that more knowledge about other nationalities promotes better understanding and relations with those of different countries, cultures and traditions. Like the students and their host families, they learn from one another.
… and Simon and Jacobo, who list basketball, soccer, school breaks, Mark’s double cheeseburgers and French Fries as some of their favorite things, are they so different from most American kids their age?