On top of the world
The cultural experiences they had in Italy, Switzerland and Finland won’t soon be forgotten. New worlds, lifelong friendships and valuable lessons in the art of independence are a small sliver of what five St. Croix Central High School Lions Club foreign exchange participants brought home with them. Not to mention the bags of souvenirs and photos expected from any overseas trip.
Claire Hueg, Sadie Buckel, Abby Harrington, Dana Queen and Logan Lipinski were chosen last December by the Roberts Lions Club to travel overseas this summer for one month as part of the Lions club foreign exchange program.
Students stayed with host families for the majority of their stay, followed by attendance at a Lions Camp. The Lions camps focused on sightseeing, culture and different things like sports, the arts, architecture and the environment.
Each student’s experiences will be featured individually in The News over the next couple of weeks.
Claire Hueg - Switzerland
Claire Hueg’s trip started with a bang when her flight was cancelled and she had to spend a night in Washington, D.C., on her way to Switzerland. She arrived in Switzerland July 4 and arrived home Aug. 2.
“I chose Switzerland because I love mountains and they definitely have mountains there,” Hueg said. “Also, they have German, French and Italian influences there, as well as their own Swiss culture, so I was exposed to many different cultures in one country.”
She stayed in the center of Geneva on the seventh floor of an apartment building with a host family consisting of a father from Cameroon, a mother who was Swiss-German and their two children.
“Being in a city was very different for me, as was living in an apartment building,” Hueg said. “Geneva was very different from U.S. cities because it didn’t have tall buildings and was extremely old. It was founded by the Romans.”
Her host family time was highlighted by going out with her host brother and sister, an electronic music festival, going with her host mother to museums and hiking at Charmonix-Mont Blanc.
Hueg attended Lions Camp in Lucerne, a city of about 76,000 people in the German-influenced region of Switzerland. She met students from 23 different countries.
“It was very challenging when I first arrived at the camp as an American,” Hueg said. “Many campers were constantly making jokes about obesity, laziness and gun violence. I knew that some countries had negative views of America, but I was truly surprised at some of the things they had heard and believed about us. As an ambassador from America, I felt it was my job to create a more positive image of my country. Once we got to know each other the jokes slowed or became nicer. It was hard dealing with the negativity toward America at first, but I hope I was able to show them how I view America, as a land where people work hard for the opportunities they have and take care of people they care about.”
While there, Hueg became close friends with a Russian girl, which no one expected, she said.
“Many people thought we would be fighting over the two weeks we were there,” Hueg said. “However, we decided not to focus on politics or homelands and instead be ourselves, and she is now one of my very close friends from the camp.”
Hiking the mountains was the pinnacle of Hueg’s camp stint, besides the close friendships she made with fellow campers and meeting James Blunt at a concert in Lucerne.
“I loved being around the mountains and climbing because that is not an opportunity you get in our very flat state,” Hueg said. “The feeling of being on top of the world was absolutely amazing.”