Slovak Exchange Student Visits America

Mária Šimová was one of nine students from the Lutheran High School in Martin to visit the United States last summer.

“I had the opportunity to spend one month in America, live with an American family, and get to know their culture and way of life. I spent most of my time in Chicago and in the Chicago suburb of River Forest. I also spent five days in Detroit, where young people from all over the United States attended the ELCA Youth Convention. Our hotel room was on the sixty-second floor, and some of us had rooms even higher than that!”

“Detroit is different from Chicago as a city in terms of its quality of life and scenery. Chicago is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city that consists of many different ethnic communities like Greektown, Chinatown, etc.”

“My favorite place in Chicago is Millennium Park, a beautiful park architecturally designed and located next to Chicago’s famous Art Institute. I spent time in Millennium Park enjoying concerts, picnics, and even a live recording of a radio show!”

Maria says her host family was very friendly and hospitable. “For that I am very grateful,” she says. “Thanks to them, I was able to meet many great people and have many unique and unforgettable experiences. I am very thankful for the chance to spend time in America and have this wonderful experience.”

Maria’s hosts were the Vogen family of River Forest, Ill.: Shawn and Kristin and their children Bjorn, Kaitlin, and Mara. Kristin says: “We had a wonderful time sharing Chicago with Maria! Her delight at so much was fun to watch. We enjoyed learning about her home, too.”

“We expanded Maria’s English vocabulary to include ‘overwhelming’ and ‘yummy.’ Bjorn and Kaitlin look forward to seeing Maria when they visit Martin this summer to teach Vacation Bible School with a team from Grace Lutheran Church.”

Lutheran High School students make fine summer houseguests for families interested in showing them the American way of life. The hosting experience is rewarding for both host families and their guests. To learn more about arranging a one-month stay, please contact Tomas Gulan at

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