Lacey, a Taiwan exchange student, will spend a year in Dowagiac with a host family. Leader photo/ALY GIBSON

Archived Story

Dowagiac welcomes Taiwan student

Published 6:08pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thanks to the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, which connects exchange students from around the globe with host families in other countries, Dowagiac is now home to Tvu Han Tsai, better known as “Lacey.”

Lacey, 17, hails from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on the southeastern side of the country. Her father, a Rotarian in Taiwan, heard about the Youth Exchange Program and his three children, Lacey’s older brother and her twin sister, decided they wanted to participate. Lacey’s brother visited the United States last year and her twin sister is in France. Lynne and Ken McCalley, of Dowagiac, said they weren’t a part of Dowagiac’s club, but were given information on the program from Marilu and Mike Franks. From there, they decided to be host parents.

“She’s done marvelous,” Lynne said Wednesday. “She’s had seven years of English in Taiwan, so until she becomes more fluent, we can spell out words and she understands what we’re asking or saying.”

Lacey began her first day of school at Union High School Tuesday. Among the adjustments she is experiencing, Lacey said school was different.

“Teachers change classrooms, and I’ve never had a locker,” Lacey said.

While many Americans speak somewhat fast, Lacey said art class has already become her favorite because of its ability to be a universal language.

“It’s relaxing for her at the end of the day,” Lynne said.

Other adjustments include the weather, something Lacey said is a nice change from the consistently hot and humid Taiwan. She is also learning about the food, stating her favorite dishes so far include chicken.

“We’ve tried to bring in some stuff she likes since food is a challenge for her yet,” Lynne said. “She has tea she brought from home, and she’s able to make that when she gets home from school.”

In the Rotary district, Lacey is one of 10 exchange students who have traveled from home to spend a year in the U.S.  This weekend, Lacey will sail to Chicago with the other exchange students and chaperones.

“We went camping two weeks ago,” Lacey said. “We also keep in touch on Facebook.”

As per the program, Youth Exchange urges students to stay with more than one family in the same town to get a well-rounded experience. Currently, Lacey does not have a second family to live with.

“We hope more people are interested in hosting her and showing her our town,” Lynne said. “It’s a new experience, and we’re really enjoying it.”

The McCalley’s are expected to host Lacey until November or early December.

“She’s fun to have, and it’s something different for us,” Lynne, whose children are adults, said. “It’s been such a good experience already.”

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