PRINCETON — The Mack family of Princeton is hosting an exchange student from Denmark this school year.
Ida (pronounced Ee-da) Kappel-Boysen will be a senior at Princeton High School, where she hopes to have an all-American high school experience.
The 15-year-old has grown up watching movies like "Grease" and "Mean Girls" and is curious to see what high school life is really like in America.
Having just graduated the 10th grade this past year, Ida explained how many students her age in Denmark go on to explore other areas of education, and participating in a foreign exchange program is something she's always wanted to do.
"I wanted to try something new and experience different cultures, because we all watch movies with high school from America, but is it really like that? No one knows until they try it," she said.
While much younger than many of the incoming seniors at PHS, Ida will technically be one of them based on her academics and the social aspect of getting to participate in activities like graduation and senior prom.
Ida also plans to check out the tennis, soccer and track teams while she's here. She said she's also really into theater and hopes to get involved in drama club.
She's been in the States only a few weeks, but Ida can already point out a number of differences in the culture, the people and the food.
She said the people have been "very nice and polite." Also, the food is a bit different and she's noticed many chain restaurants she never knew existed.
Amy Mack, Ida's host mom, explained how she's always wanted to host a student through a foreign exchange program, but being a military family that moved around a lot never allowed for the right opportunity.
But when Mack, a Buda native, retired from the Air Force in 2015 and decided to settle down in Princeton, the opportunity finally became available.
"We thought it wouldn't just be a great opportunity for the student who came, but for our kids, too," she said. "Every bit they can learn from it is a positive for us and Ida."
Mack and her husband, Larry, have four girls whose ages range from 5 to 12 years old.
The Macks decided to choose a younger student who would be closer in age to their oldest daughter. Mack is hopeful that her girls will learn just as much about Ida's culture as she will learn from them. She's already shared some of the language and customs from Denmark.
"We got very lucky. She's going to be an awesome addition to our family," Mack said.
The Mack family has picked up a thick stack of Illinois tourist guides they've thumbed through and marked places they plan to visit with Ida.
"The more we can show her, the better," Mack said.
Ida will also accompany her host family on trips to Kentucky, St. Louis and Chicago.
The foreign exchange student program the Macks worked through is Education First High School Exchange Year. Those interested in becoming a host family can contact Jeremy and Nicole Painter at 309-897-5009 or 309-678-4263 or email Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org.