MINERVA Colombia, Paraguay, Thailand what do these countries have in common with Minerva and Olmstedville? At first glance, it would be easy to say, well, nothing. But this would be incorrect. The world outside of Minerva and Olmstedville has been visiting, and will be here until the end of the 2008-2009 school year. Recognizing the need to boost diversity in the Minerva Central School community, the administration at MCS has helped to bring students from these diverse locations to the school, and the results have been great. The three students Lisseth Stephania Giraldo Mendoza (Colombia), Giuliano Cocco Perito Rivas (Paraguay), and Thanapat Piromkan (Thailand), have been attending Minerva Central School since the beginning of the new school year, taking classes alongside other students in a variety of courses. All three students are seniors, and all three are active in extracurricular activities including the Minerva-Newcomb sports program. Thanapat (a.k.a. Dome) is the goalie for the boys varsity soccer team and Lisseth is a forward for the girls soccer team. Although ineligible to play, Giuliano has come to many of the games this fall, rooting for the Minerva-Newcomb Mountaineers. Dome and Lisseth arrived at MCS as part of Youth For Understanding USA (YFU), an international student exchange program that works to totally immerse students in American culture and helps them to understand their responsibilities and opportunities in a changing, interdependent world (Youth for Understanding Host Family Handbook). MCS Principal Heidi Kelly and Superintendent Tim Farrell made the YFU connection through Newcomb Central School Superintendent Skip Hults, who had two additional students to place as a result of his efforts with YFU in Newcomb. The Oct. 4 front-page News Enterprise article provides plenty of information about the five YFU students and the programs success in Newcomb. Giuliano comes to MCS through the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program with help from the North Creek Rotary. Through this program, MCS has had success over the past several years placing four of its graduating seniors in various countries throughout the world. These include Nick Kelly (in Finland), Alice Kelly (in Spain), Whitney McGinn (in the Czech Republic currently), and McKenna Kelly (in Taiwan currently). Arriving in Minerva Aug. 28, Guiliano also quickly got into the swing of things in the Minerva/Olmstedville metropolitan area. The three students have fit right in, and have been welcome since day one, making positive contributions to our school community, said Heidi Kelly. The MCS staff is happy to have them, and treat them as regular students. All three recently received their five-week reports, which provide an update on what each student is doing academically. We have always been open to getting foreign students into the school, said Kelly. Programs such as YFU and Rotary make it easier for our kids to go out into the global society, where the world is so diverse. The home countries of all three students, but especially those of Dome and Lisseth, have a much more tropical climate than the Adirondacks. The oncoming winter season will be interesting for the three, no question. It will be quite cold for them, but they are ready; skiing, boarding, snowshoeing, and skating would definitely be new activities for each. When asked about learning how to ski, Lisseth replied that she is ready, as long as I can keep my hands warm. Dome and Giuliano are also ready for the cold, although each seems to be facing it with just as much concern. A hike on the Blue Ledges trail to see the upper Hudson River in Minerva Sept. 27 proved to be very popular for the three new MCS students, who were joined by a Newcomb student (Promith Rahman, from Bangladesh), a MCS student Travis Salisbury (from Olmstedville), and two host parents. The host families for these students have been very happy to have their new sons and daughter living with and learning from them. These families include Heidi and Joe Kelly (Giuliano), Kim and Keith Dubay (Dome), and Sue Montgomery and Mike Corey (Lisseth). The experience has been a good one, and the students become part of the lives of their host families. From activities as diverse as trips to the store, trips to NYC, and trips to the homes of relatives for holidays, these students have become family. Its a long time until June 09, and the winter will be memorable for them, but Lisseth, Dome, and Giuliano are looking forward to months of making new friends, learning new things, playing new sports, and becoming part of the new culture in which they find themselves.