Global Outreach raises money for students
By Paul Karpenko
photo by Paul Karpenko
Slovakian exchange students entertain guests during a live
performance at the Taste of Europe banquet April 13.
The smell of Czech sauerkraut soup and Slovak stuffed cabbage drifted through Perry Hall at the fifth annual Taste of Europe fundraiser April 13.
Global Outreach Catholic Exchange Program invited students, host families and the greater Catholic community to spend the evening immersed in European culture.
"I was excited to be here. I think it's a great event, because people can see the face of Global Outreach," Hungarian exchange student Marcell Bakos said.
"It's a fun night. Europeans like to have fun."
The charity gala began with mass at 4 p.m., then 5 p.m. marked the start of the night's silent auction bidding, which included various items donated by area businesses from Green Bay to Oshkosh. Guests could mingle and enjoy a cash bar at this time.
Following the social hour was a European buffet-style dinner. Food items included Czech sauerkraut soup and chicken with wild mushrooms, Slovakian stuffed cabbage, Hungarian rugulach (croissants), Lithuanian kugelis (potato and bacon) and a Czech fresh berry tart for dessert.
Exchange students provided live entertainment beginning at 7 p.m. Students from each country took part in a musical show, singing their national anthems and traditional songs.
Global Outreach brings European students from Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, whose countries emerged from communist rule, to the United States for a year-long exchange program.
The spiritual director for the event, Father Larry Seidl, is deeply involved with the workings of the outreach. Along with director Barbara Tota-Boryczka, Seidl goes to the five countries during winter to interview potential students.
The fundraiser is especially important for the program's continuation.
"We want everyone to have a good time and to have a great cultural experience through the foods, and we want to spread the message about the program," Seidl said.
"There are people who have never hosted, so it's an opportunity to meet the students, the wonderful students that we have, and this is the time of year we are looking for host families for next year."
While living with a host family, Global Outreach students attend a Catholic school, are involved with a local parish and learn about American culture.
Exchange student candidates must fill out a 38 page-long application and undergo interviews with the program's directors.
"The students have taken a long path to get here," event organizer and host Wendy Nett said.
Host families open their homes at no charge to the student and provide food and shelter.
Nett commented on the energy and love between host families and students.
"The amazing part of this program, I think as a host family you get more out of the program then what you give to the student. You learn about their culture and there is so much love you get from them," Nett said.
"It's a permanent bond, they become a part of your family."
The important part for the students is staying with a Catholic family and community, which creates a very familial atmosphere.
"The reason we have stayed the size we are to handle with the 22 students is because this feels like a family," Global Outreach treasurer Gary Elmer said.
The program also promotes the education of American culture to exchange students.
"I came here to meet people and to improve my English. Before I didn't know a lot about the USA," Lithuanian exchange student Adas Parazinskas said.
Parazinskas attends Xavier High School in Appleton. He joined the Outreach program to learn about the American way of life.
"I like the sports here. I attend a small school in my country and there are no sports teams, so it was much better here, especially basketball," Parazinskas said.
Global Outreach is in its twenty-second year of operation. Students stay with host families and attend schools in Manitowoc, Neenah, Green Bay, Wausau and Chippewa Falls, as well as schools in Minnesota and Nebraska.
Last year's event generated over $10,600 in proceeds. The organization's goal for this year was to raise $12,500. Seidl was ecstatic about the event's turnout of 175 attendees.
To learn more about Global Outreach programs and events, visit www.globaloutreachprogram.com.