The following essay was written by German Intern Fabian Stassek’s host family, the Perchyshyn Family of St. Paul, Minnesota. The Amity Team thanks the Perchyshyns for sharing such an intimate glimpse into your life as hosts.
“From August of 2019 to January of 2020, we had the privilege of having a 23-year old Amity Intern from Speyer, Germany become part of our family. His name is Fabian Stassek. My son, Gunther, age 13, also known as Gunny, attends a German Immersion school in St. Paul, Minnesota and Fabian worked at the German school from the end of August through the middle of January 2020.
Fabian soon showed his easy-going and fun nature by always being willing to play card games, sports and go on family trips with us. He loved anything active, new or social. His English was very good and he would speak to my husband and myself exclusively in English. However, since my son knew German, Fabian and Gunther would converse in German.
Since he liked sports, we took him to a minor league baseball game at Saints Field, to see one of Minnesota’s favorite teams; The Saint Paul Saints. We also invited another Amity Intern to join us and he did. His name was Fabriz Abeln.
It was a beautiful summer night, a great night to watch baseball. Fabriz, Fabian and Gunther were sitting close to my husband and myself, but a few rows away. We didn’t know this, but they spent the evening speaking in German. My husband and I took a break from the game to get a snack. We overheard a couple people talking about the “Germans” who were sitting by them. I didn’t think much of this until those same people talking about the Germans were seated behind us. They were talking about our group.
I turned around and asked the lady if she was talking about that group. I pointed to Fabriz, Fabian and Gunther. She said that indeed, she was. I told her that one of them was my son. She was shocked. “Really?” she asked. “Are you German?”
I told her I wasn’t, at least not more than 10 percent. She wondered how my son knew German and I explained that he went to a German Immersion school. She said, “Well, it’s working. I thought he was German too.”
Fabian and Gunther spoke German almost exclusively while he was here. Fabian was able to practice his English with us and our son got to practice his German with Fabian. They had a great time playing baseball, basketball, skating in the winter, skiing at Afton Alps and sightseeing all over Minnesota. It felt like we had a bigger family and a more active one. We have two adult daughters who live in the area and Fabian got to spend time with them and all of us, especially on holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
We had a wonderful experience with Fabian and feel like our family grew in so many ways. He learned English and American culture and we learned German and more about the culture of Germany. My son learned to be more self-sufficient, by watching Fabian and seeing how he did homework, cleaned up after himself and made meals. Fabian liked the food here, except the bread! He was not a picky eater at all, but American bread does not compare to German bread.
Perhaps the best part of all is that we have a new family member in Germany now and our world got bigger, especially for my son. He’ll be traveling to Germany in May with his classmates and teachers and he may have a chance to reconnect with Fabian. We hope to travel there next summer and visiting Fabian would be a top priority. It’s a magical thing to have the world get smaller while your family gets bigger. The learning is incidental.
Thank you AMITY for being part of the educational landscape at my son’s school.”