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"Life after Oberlin" 
by Cynthia Evans
Oberlin New-Tribune
Thursday, March 8, 1984
Page 1

AFS students have been busy since returning home
What happened to Oberlin’s American Field Service exchange students after their year here was over?

Since Marja Heino arrived from Finland in 1954 as the first AFS student, 34 foreign teenagers have sampled American life in Oberlin, including the two current students, Carlo Perez from Chile and Yvonne Ligtenberg from the Netherlands.

Over the years most host families have kept in touch with their “sons” and “daughters,” and several weeks ago former hosts got together to exchange reminiscences. AFS adult chapter member Marlene Andrews, whose family hosted Australian Bronwyn Stephens three years ago, collected these reports on AFSers’ post-Oberlin activities.

Marja Heino (hosted by the Mosher family) still lives in Finland, in the city of Espoo. She married and her three children were all AFS students themselves. The Moshers visited her four times in Finland; she twice returned to the U.S.

Helma Freitag (West Germany, Stephens family, 1956-57) first attended a German university and then came back to study at Oberlin College. She eventually married her Oberlin High School boyfriend, Tony Lanyi. They now live in Washington, D.C.

Ingrid Brinck (Sweden, Phipps family, 1957-58) now teaches English and lives in Oxie, Sweden. She is married and has three children. Ingred hosted the Phippses twice in Sweden; her “sister” Sonja Phipps made several trips to see her.

Mogens Thomsen (Denmark, Holbrook and Cowling families, 1960-61) studied at the University of Copenhagen and became a doctor. The Cowlings have lost touch with Mogens but are attempting to locate him again.

Solveig Bugge (Norway, Dixon family, 1961-62) earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA and later married a Dane she met while doing graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. The couple has two children and live in Belgium. Sloveig teaches Norwegian; her husband works with the European Community Office. The Dixons visited her twice in Norway, while she and other members of her family have come to Oberlin several times.

Luciano Castro (Chile, Fields family, 1962-63 married, became a U.S. citizen, and now works for the space program in Florida, where the Fields have visited him often.

Michel LeBorgne (France, Schettler family, 1963-64) has made several trips back to Oberlin, the most recent being last year. His home is still in France, where he works as a salesman. Michel is also married, with three children.

Tsugiko Yamogami (Japan, Arnold family, 1964-65) returned to the U.S., graduated from Baldwin-Wallace, and married another B-W student. She now lives in Connecticut and serves as vice president in charge of world operations for the AFS headquarters in New York City.

Florian Schmithusen (Germany, Anderson family, 1966-67) lived in Kiel, Germany, after his stay in Oberlin. He had plans to become a doctor. The Anderson have visited him in Germany and in London.

Purnima Bhende (India, Yinger family, 1967-68) earned a Ph.D. in demography from the Tata Institute in Bombay; she now lectures there. She married and had one child. Another was due last December but the Yingers have not yet received an announcement of the birth. They have visited her once in India – “sister” Nancy made a couple of trips – but Prunima has never been back to the U.S.

Jorge Castillo (Chile, Gibson family, 1968-69) returned to Chile briefly, but because of the political situation there at the time he moved to Spain. He eventually received a Ph.D. from the University of Barcelona and is now an English teacher there.

Patrick Zahnd (France, Gittler family, 1969-70) attended a university in France and married a French girl. He still lives in France but works in Geneva, Switzlerland, as an attorney for the International Red Cross. He has twice returned to Oberlin while the Gittlers have visited him three times in his native country.

Aklilu Demessie (Ethiopia, Gittler family, 1970-71) met his future wife, also an Ethiopian AFS student, on the bus trip which followed his stay in Oberlin. They were married in Oberlin several years ago. Aklilu earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Case Western Reserve University (his wife has a B.A. from John Carroll) and now works as an engineer with Cleveland Pneumatic.

Henk van’t Hull (Netherlands, Greenberg family, 1971-72) is still single and a second officer in the Dutch Merchant Marine. The Greenbergs visited him several times in Europe, then he showed up unannounced at “sister” Judy’s wedding two summers ago.

Hans-Dieter Woelcke (West Germany, Worcester family, 1972-73) enrolled in a computer program in a German university with plans to become a teacher. The Worcesters have visited him in Germany.

Egon Luengo-Provoste (Chile, Johnson and Rooks families, 1973-74) came back to the U.S. to study at Cleveland State. He now works as an engineer at Osborn Engineers in Cleveland and is also a part-time graduate student in computer engineering. He married an American and they live in North Olmsted. Several of Egon’s relatives have traveled to Oberlin; his host “sister” Michele Rooks plans a trip to Chile next year.

Jerome Delage (France, Livingston family, 1974-75) now lives in Paris where he plays guitar in a combo at a nightclub and also does wood-working. The Livingstons have not seen him since he left Oberlin but several of his OHS friends have visited him in France.

Giulio Illuminati (Italy, Habecker family, 1975-76) is now a general surgeon in Rome and hopes to become a neurosurgeon after an 18-month stint in the navy. He has made one return visit to Oberlin.

Francoise Lange (Belgium, Elder family, 1977-78) works as an elementary school teacher in Belgium. She married a doctor – the wedding was attended by one of her OHS friends – and has one child.

Alejandra Barra-Joffre (Chile, Livingston family, 1978-79) is attending law school at the university in Concepcion. Although Alejandra was considered a quiet girl during her stay in Oberlin, since returning to Chile she has become a political activist. She has joined the resistance against the Chilean president and helps those in jail.

Phumuza Manzini (Swaziland, Mackay family, 1978-79) returned to Ohio to study one year at Walsh College in Canton. He is now a student in economics and business at the University of Kansas. He has made several trips back to Oberlin.

Rete Nelger (Switzerland, Helm family, 1980-81) finished his high school requirements in Switzerland and then completed his compulsory military service. He hopes to become a veterinarian. He has not revisited Oberlin but several OHS friends have traveled to Switzerland to see him.

Bronwyn Stephens (Australia, Andrews family, 1980-81) began her nurse’s training in Australia but was forced to give it up after back surgery. She now plans to become a teacher. Her brother has made a trip to Oberlin.

Frederice Coutinhe (Portugal, Marshall family, 1981-82) traveled through Europe for a year and is now studying law at the University of Lisbon.

Annina Holmqvist (Sweden, Rollins family, 1981-82) is continuing here education at a university in Stockholm with hopes of becoming an oral surgeon.

Norike Sueda (Japan, Longsworth family, 1981-82) is a psychology major at Sophia University. Former OHS teacher Tadaaki Hatta has visited her in Japan as has OHS student Bennett Helm who is currently spending an AFS year there.

Anna-Maria Dandenell (Sweden, Bewig family, 1982-83) has one more year of high school to finish. “Sisters” Laura and Wendy hope to visit her in Europe this summer.

Frans Vanhove (Belgium, Brittingham family, 1982-83) is attending a French-speaking university in Brussels. “Brother” Billy plans to join the Bewigs on their Europe trip in order to visit Frans as well.

Mrs. Andrews was unable to obtain information on three other AFS students – Hellmuth Holl of Germany, who stayed with the Cox family in 1955-56; Carols Ruiz of Spain, who was hosted by the Wallace and Ignat families in 1958-59; and Asa Hellman of Finland, who lived with the Spencer family in 1965-66. 

Another AFS student, Lam Trong Guong of South Vietnam, died in California several years ago. He had stayed with the Spencer and Rooks families in 1971-72 and later graduated from Oberlin College.

In addition to Bennett Helm, Maria Crawford is also spending an AFS year overseas staying with a family in West Germany. Since 1955, 12 other Oberlin students have participated for a summer or a school year in the Americans Abroad program sponsored by the AFS organization.


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