Germany exchange student enjoying life in Coshocton County

| February 10, 2015
Friends: Kellyn Donaker is pictured with her family’s Germany exchange student Alonja Weigert. The two have quickly become friends since Weigert’s arrival in August. Photo contributed to The Beacon.

Friends: Kellyn Donaker is pictured with her family’s Germany exchange student Alonja Weigert. The two have quickly become friends since Weigert’s arrival in August. Photo contributed to The Beacon.

COSHOCTON – Alonja Weigert has been on the go since arriving in America and loving every minute of it.

“We picked her up from the airport in August and went straight to the Canal Days Parade,” said Janette Donaker, whose family is hosting Weigert. “She walked the whole thing with us.”

Weigert, who is from Germany, always wanted to be an exchange student, but her parents weren’t supportive of the idea at first.

“They didn’t want to lose me for a year, but I wanted to do this so I called an organization that did this and after talking to them my parents were ok with it,” she said.

When Weigert found out she was coming to Ohio, she actually had to go look it up to see where it was. It’s not the place she would have picked to spend the school year, but now that she’s here she wouldn’t trade locations.

“I’m not from a big city, but here it is so different,” Weigert said. “We have no neighbors. It’s just all cows and donkeys.”

The Donaker’s live on the edge of the county out past Union Elementary and enrolled Weigert at River View High School where she joined the senior class.

“It was overwhelming here at first,” Weigert said. “There are a lot of differences. Even the cars are different. We don’t drive the big trucks. It’s mostly small cars.”

School also is not the same as it is in Germany.

“In Germany we are in school until 4:30 p.m.,” Weigert said. “We don’t get to pick classes or have all these school activities. You also can get closer to your teachers here and talk to them.”

One of River View’s extracurricular activities that intrigued Weigert the most was the cheerleading squads.

“We don’t have cheerleaders in Germany,” she said. “I thought they were really cool and when I first watched them at a football game it looked so easy to do.”

Weigert tried out for the squad and now helps cheer on River View’s junior varsity boys’ basketball team with the rest of the JV cheerleaders.

“It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought,” she said. “I was so confused, but I’ve been practicing at home to catch up. I’m not really good, but I’m a lot better.”

Weigert also got involved in River View’s choir groups and is a member of the Coshocton Community Choir’s youth chorale.

“When I have a concert here my parents set their alarm in Germany for 2 or 3 a.m. and get up and hold their thumbs and think of me that things go well,” she said. “In Germany we don’t cross our fingers. We hold our thumbs instead.”

The Donakers have enjoyed hearing Weigert sing.

“She knows four different languages and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to my Dad in all four of them,” Janette said.

Another unique experience for Weigert was the Coshocton County Fair.

“It was awesome,” she said.

The Donakers’ daughter Kellyn is involved in 4-H so Weigert had to spend a lot of time at the fair with the family.

“I was there every single day from morning to night, but it was really great,” Weigert said. “We have roller coasters and food stands in Germany, but nothing like the animal shows. Kellyn showed a pig so the pig barn became a second home to me.”

Weigert also has discovered that Americans eat a lot different than Germans.

“She thinks Americans eat horrible,” Janette said.

Weigert said there doesn’t seem to be as much variety in restaurants as she is used to.

“There is a lot of fast food,” she said. “There are burgers here and burgers there. In Germany you have more like Red Lobsters and Texas Roadhouses with different options.”

Weigert will be with the Donakers until June and then she will return to Germany for two more years of school.

“This year doesn’t count for me,” Weigert said. “I’m just here to improve my English.”

When she leaves she will definitely miss the people she’s met.

“We’ve gotten so close,” Weigert said. “It’s a long time to spend with people and we’ve been through a lot together. I hope to visit again.”

The Donakers also will miss her.

“Her and Kellyn are like sisters,” Janette said. “Within two weeks they were best buds.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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