Amber and Steve Fitzwilliams are relative newcomers to Williams Lake who enjoy travel and thought that taking in an exchange student would be a nice way to get to know another culture.
The couple came out from Ontario three years ago for work.
Steve works as an assayer at Gibraltar Mine and Amber works at Easyhome in Boitanio Mall.
Amber is originally from Cobourg, Ontario and Steve is from Courtice, Ontario, which is near Oshawa.
Instead of taking in just one student they have taken in two exchange students this year.
“We just really wanted to get a feel for another culture,” Steve says. “We do a lot of travelling ourselves and making connections and experiencing other cultures is something that rubs off on you.”
They have travelled extensively through the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii and plan to travel to Europe this year.
Their exchange students are from Germany and Sweden so they are getting some first-hand accounts of life in those countries from their exchange students.
Carla Kluth, 16, who is taking Grade 11 at Columneetza, comes from a small town 45 minutes outside of Bonn, Germany.
She commutes by bus each day to attend an all-girls’ school in Bonn and says that in Germany students don’t finish high school until Grade 13.
She says there are 26 students in her class in Germany and 14 of them are on exchanges this year. Her dad is a national police officer.
Carla says she loves sports and has been playing volleyball and basketball, and plans to play soccer or rugby in the spring.
The Fitzwilliams’ other exchange student is Andreas Marjo, who has lived in Wexio, Sweden for the past nine years but will be living in Stockholm when he returns home.
Students taking an exchange year set their graduation back a year, but most find the setback worth the experience of living and learning in another country.
Andreas describes his exchange as “splendid.”
He is 17 and in Grade 11. He would have been in Grade 12 at home this year. While the students don’t get credit for the work they do on their exchange, he says they still have to keep up a 70 per cent average on their course work to stay in the program.
He enjoys playing on the Columneetza soccer team and has enjoyed quite a few trips downhill skiing.
Andreas speaks English with what could be described as a Canadian accent.
He says that is likely because he started kindergarten and Grade 1 at an English-speaking international school in Thailand where his father was working at the time.
In addition to English he speaks Swedish, French, Thai, and a bit of Finnish.
Carla says she studies Latin at home as well as French and English which she speaks well.
Amber brought her two horses out from Ontario with them when they moved to Williams Lake. The horses are boarded at a local ranch. Carla did some riding in Germany and has enjoyed being able to go riding with the Fitzwilliams and experience ranch life in the Cariboo.