Marion High School hosted its first foreign exchange students through American Field Service (AFS), which began as a volunteer ambulance corps at the beginning of WWII. After WWII it evolved into an international youth exchange program.
Maria (Landgraf) Diener of Boppard was the first Foreign Exchange (FE) student to visit Marion High School. Sponsored by the local Kiwanis, Maria brought something exciting to the class of 1955. She was hosted by Lloyd Homes and his family.
Since 1955 the FE has hosted over 100 students from a variety of countries including Netherlands, Ecuador, Switzerland, Russia, Iceland, Ukraine and Hong Hong.
Sharon “Sherry” (Wilkinson) Murray, Class of 1955, became close friends with Maria and continues to write and email her to this day. In one email Maria described how her son Matthias Diener plays in Das Minguet Quartet, one of the most sought-after string quartets today, who toured in the United States in 2020.
Maria and her husband attended their 45 class reunion in September of 2000 and joined the class float in the parade. In gratitude to classmates who planned the reunion, Maria crocheted textiles for committee members.
In a phone call with Sherry she described the fun time that she and her classmates had showing Maria around Marion when she and her husband visited for the reunion. Maria also visited a Noon Kiwanis Club to connect with that organization again after 45 years. Sherry described Maria as a smart gal who fit right in with her class. Maria’s exchange visit started off the MISD FE program on an excellent note!
Marion High School continues to host foreign exchange students and currently has two living with families in the district. One is from Pakistan, and one is from Slovakia. In February the Alumni Engagement Committee hosted an open house at the Marion School Foundation office featuring framed photos of former exchange students attending Marion High School. These photos, formerly displayed in the high school library, were offered to alumni and friends with connections to the students. It was fun to hear stories shared from alumni who hosted or friended FE students during their time at Marion High School.
This article is part of the Summer 2022 Edition of the Marion Independent School Foundation and Alumni Association Newsletter. If you are interested in staying in touch with the latest Marion School Foundation news, please update your information for our records here: https://marion-foundation.org/alumni/.