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German native transitions to American ways

By Staff | Nov 10, 2013

Magdalene Dederichs doesn’t use Google translator or give her host mother, Staci Bonin, a confusing look as much anymore.

That’s because the German exchange student has learned more English here than she ever thought she would.

“That was one of my goals,” Dederichs says. “Speaking English constantly has really helped me learn new words and phrases.”

When Dederichs first arrived in Blue Earth on Aug. 13, she admitted that she needed to work on her English for her future aspirations.

“I was talking with my step-dad one night and we ended up talking about jobs,” she says. “He brought up an air-traffic controller. It grabbed my interest so I looked into it more and now I want to be one when I?grow up.”

Dederichs was somewhat nervous coming to America, but she knew that her host family would be great based on the picture she received.

According to Chad Bonin, Dederichs has fit right in with their family.

“We were excited and somewhat nervous because we have heard both good and bad stories about other experiences,” Bonin says. “We debated having an exchange student a couple years ago, but we wanted our kids to be older and closer to the same age. It really has been a perfect fit for everyone.”

Dederichs is the Bonin’s first exchange student. They signed up to do the exchange program when they were away on vacation.

“We joke that we came back from vacation with a foreign exchange student,” Staci Bonin says.

The Bonin’s have always been into hunting and wanted to share that experience with Magdalene.

So, over MEA weekend, Chad, his daughter Taylor,16, and son, CJ, 14, took Dederichs duck hunting on Pierce Lake in Fairmont.

“I’m pretty sure that was the most eye opening thing that I have ever done,” Dederichs recalls. “I never thought I would ever shoot a gun before. My host family taught me everything I needed to know. I can now say that I touched a duck.”

She observed the family taking aim from about 5:30 a.m. to noon.

They spent all morning setting up floating decoys, duck calling, chatting and cleaning the ducks.

Java, the Bonin’s family dog has been trained by Chad to retrieve the ducks.

“That was another thing that I was surprised about,” Dederichs says. “At first I had no idea how they would go and get the ducks they shot.”

Back home, Dederichs spends a lot of time outside with her friends hanging out.

Since she gets out of school before the lunch hour in Germany, a lot of her free time is used dancing, going to the gym and playing soccer.

Here at Blue Earth Area High School, she played volleyball with her host sister and plans on doing gymnastics this winter.

Seeing high school kids with so much school spirit was a change of pace for Dederichs.

“The school pride here in Blue Earth is crazy,” she says. “Back home we don’t have sports associated with our school. No one wears school colors or has clothing representing our school. I really enjoy being a part of the energetic atmosphere.”

She also was not used to having towns so far apart.

The transition for Dederichs was a smooth one because the Bonin’s were a similar family to her own in Germany.

She has a 13-year-old sister named Emilia and a 19-year-old brother named Damian.

However, it has been a while since she has been around a toddler. Tyson, 2, is the youngest Bonin.

“I love playing with Tyson,” Dederichs says. “He always has so much energy and always makes me smile.”

As for the future, Dederichs said she would possibly want to go to college in America.

She says it is going to be hard to leave because she enjoys Blue Earth and the friends she has met.

“Of course I miss my family a little, but honestly I really don’t miss anything about Germany,” Dederichs admits. “So far this has been a better experience than I?could have ever imagined.”

It didn’t take the German native long to get accustomed to the way things were done in Blue Earth. It was, however, a lot faster. There is always something to do, according to Dederichs.

“I am lucky to be with such a great family,” she says. “The first week we had awkward interchanges trying to understand each other, but it got better and now I wouldn’t want it any other way.”