Exchange students touch downPublished 8:21pm Monday, August 20, 2012
At Norfolk International Airport on Saturday, Suffolk’s Cindy Fegley waited with nervous energy for the arrival of a young man to whom she will be a kind of surrogate mother through the next school year.
United Airlines flight US 3758 from Chicago was running ahead of time. Any minute, Bernardo Sande would be getting a first glimpse of his host family.
Fegley clutched a welcome sign bearing the Brazilian flag, made by her son Christopher and another foreign exchange student already living with the Fegley family, Ukrainian Arthur Ushakov.
Soon, Sande was among four students, from the Foreign Links Around the Globe program, making their way down the terminal.
“We’re really going to have a multicultural family,” Fegley said.
Brazilian Lorena Gelasko was collected at the airport by Jim Abrams, husband of FLAG local coordinator Liz Abrams.
Gelasko will remain with the Abramses until her Suffolk host family returns from vacation. She hopes to attend King’s Fork High as a senior. “I’m excited — and nervous, too,” she said.
The international students attended an orientation camp in Michigan before setting out to meet their respective host families, and Fegley said a couple more were due to arrive on the next flight.
“It gives them a little time to acclimate before they get thrown to the wolves, so to speak,” she joked.
When the Fegleys decided to take on a second exchange student, Christopher Fegley and Ushakov studied information on those still needing host families, before settling on Sande.
“We were given information on about three different boys … and they picked the one that they thought would be most compatible,” Cindy Fegley said.
The three boys and perhaps one other from Boy Scout Troop 1929, where Fegley is cubmaster, attended the Nansemond Indian Tribe Pow Wow on Sunday, she said.
“It’s great (for Christopher),” she said. “It’s exposing him to other cultures and giving him the opportunity to appreciate some of the things we have here and see them in a different light.”
“He’s able to see their reaction to things we take for granted. That’s true for my husband and myself, too.”
Sande and Ushakov will both attend Nansemond River High, as a senior and a junior, respectively.
Sande said he wants to play American football and soccer while here. He’ll have a little time to settle in before meeting Christopher Fegley and Ushakov, who are camping with the troop this weekend.
“My son and Arthur did the sign, because they couldn’t be here,” Cindy Fegley said. “This was their contribution to his welcome.”