Exchange student gets special farewell party

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2002

It’s been Claudia Tuttlies’ wish since she arrived in Albert Lea last August to go line dancing.

&uot;We didn’t know how we were going to do that &045; she’s only 17 so we couldn’t take her to the bars,&uot; said her host mother, Pauline Hall.

So Pauline and her husband, Hugh, arranged for a special going-away present for Claudia, a foreign exchange student from Germany. They brought the line dancing to her.

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The Halls are members of Salem Lutheran Church in Albert Lea, where disk jockey Randy Rugroden is also a member. He brought his sound equipment and talked Claudia and her friends, many of them teammates from the Albert Lea High School Volleyball Team, through a number of line dances Tuesday at the church.

&uot;I’m still surprised,&uot; Claudia said.

The Halls had actually met Claudia in Germany before she came to live with them for the year. Her brother, Christian, was an exchange student to Albert Lea about four years ago and also stayed with the Halls.

Since then, the Halls visited the family in Germany.

&uot;We asked Claudia, ‘When are you coming?’ and she said, ‘I would never come to Minnesota!’&uot;

Pauline recalled. Christian had been here during an extremely cold winter, she added.

However, it wasn’t long before the Halls began receive e-mail messages from Claudia asking them if they were really sincere about the invitation. They were.

&uot;She has been just wonderful,&uot; Pauline said.

Claudia said she wanted to be an exchange student because it was a good chance to meet people and learn to speak English.

&uot;I wanted to see how well I could do on whole,&uot; she said.

She had five years of English classes back in Germany, but they were primarily focused on grammar, not speaking, she said.

&uot;We didn’t talk a lot, so this has really helped me,&uot; she added.

Claudia said a highlight of her year has been the friendships she’s made through the volleyball team, as well as going to Chicago.

&uot;The people have been a lot of fun,&uot; she said.

Claudia said she’s missed her family, but e-mail has made it a lot easier to keep in touch. &uot;I don’t take them for granted anymore,&uot; she said of her family.

Claudia has two years of high school left. She said she’d probably study business in college when she’s finished.

She leaves for Germany on June 12.