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This year, Menahga gets taste of Ecuadorian culture

Kelly and Becky Maninga are host parents of foreign exchange student David Revelo, center, who will stay with them and their two children while attending Menahga School as a senior this year. (Riham Feshir / Enterprise)

It has been four years since Menahga housed a foreign exchange student.

So this year, Becky and Kelly Maninga and their two children Drew and Tasha are bringing back the trend.

David Revelo, an Ecuadorian 18-year-old, moved in with the Maningas last week.

"It's been exciting," Becky Maninga said.

He will be learning from the family while teaching them a few interesting facts about his culture.

"It's a win win situation," Kelly Maninga said.

After one week in the country, his English was already getting better, his host parents said.

And it's only been a few days of school and the girls are already chasing him, they added, as Revelo laughed confident that what they said was true.

He's also been to the Minnesota State Fair, shopped in Detroit Lakes and gone to an antique tractor show in Rollag.

"We've kept him pretty busy," Becky Maninga said.

The quiet, soft-spoken, soccer player is trading South America's sun for an upcoming Minnesota cold winter to explore activities like snowmobling, ice fishing and snow tubing.

A "football" player back in Ecuador, Revelo will be on the Menahga-Sebeka "American football" team putting his kicking skills to good use.

Although he misses playing soccer twice a week in Ecuador, he's still excited about football this fall as he waits for an opportunity to get back on the soccer fields next spring.

The senior will graduate with the Menahga 2010 class before going back home to the big city life after adjusting to the country side.

The Maningas welcomed Revelo to their home on a farm located about 18 miles southwest of Park Rapids, where he said is a lot different from where he lived in Ecuador.

But so far school hasn't been so different, he said.

Revelo will not only be a student at Menahga School, he's going to put his teaching skills to the test.

This term, he is a teaching assistant to some kindergarteners who may or may not learn some Spanish from him. But for now, Becky Maninga said he will start with colors and numbers then go from there.

The Maningas have thought about hosting a foreign exchange student before, but it wasn't until this summer when they stopped by the International Exchange Student booth at the Wadena County Fair, that they were able to get the opportunity to be Revelo's parents for the school year.

"Maybe we'll start a trend," Kelly Maninga said.

Menahga School Superintendent Mary Klamm said there will be tons of opportunities to learn from Revelo.

"I am very excited that David is in our school. He brings with him diversity and a culture we are not familiar with," she said. "Students and staff love to visit with him about how things are different in Ecuador compared to here."