- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - Six students from Denmark have come to Spearfish on an exchange program, learning about life in the United States and helping their Spearfish counterparts learn more about Danish culture.

The students visited classrooms, attended local events, tried new foods and practiced their English in the western South Dakota community before heading back to their home country earlier this month, the Black Hills Pioneer (https://bit.ly/1phjGRl ) reported. The six students range in age from 16 to 19.

The students were accompanied by Peter Brink Thomsen, assistant principal at their upper-secondary school in Denmark. He said the six are “the pioneers,” and that he and a friend came to the U.S. two years ago in hopes of setting up an exchange program with a school that’s not in a big city.

“We had the idea that we would try to find a place that you wouldn’t normally find,” he said. “I think we managed doing that.”

Thomson interviewed people in the area and met Spearfish Middle School Principal Don Lyon, who was then working in Sturgis. The ultimate goal is to send students from Spearfish to the Danish school through the partnership.

Students were placed with host families during their stay. They were able to see attractions such as Mount Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon and Devils Tower.

Ida Juul Jensen, one of the Danish students, said she had never been to the U.S. and saw the program as a chance to improve her English and learn about the culture. Emilie Krogsgaard Larsen said she “thought everything would be bigger, and it is,” including houses, trucks and milk containers.

The Danish students went to classrooms throughout the Spearfish school district to give presentations, and the topics varied by age group. They prepared information about their country, houses, food and language for elementary students, while their high school presentation included more about the political structure of Denmark and the refugee crisis.

Organizers are looking toward future opportunities for the program.

“Hopefully, Spearfish High School will manage to send four to six students next year to our school,” Thomsen said.


Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com

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