When exchange students Sara Akse Einen of Bergen,
Norway and Francis Hausmann of Potsdam, Germany found
themselves in rural West Tennessee within two days of
each other, during the first week of August last year,
they wasted no time in making the most of their
Since the girls already had a background in music, they
both signed up for band at West Carroll High School
when choosing classes for their junior year.
Sara says she was excited when she discovered that in
America students could also choose athletic
participation as a for-credit course. She jumped at the
chance to sign up for basketball, despite the fact she
had no prior training in the sport, apparently unaware
of the bravado required to make such a leap.
"It just seemed fun to take a sport as a subject and I
like basketball," explains Sara, who says Coach Chris
Hayner "wasn't too positive" to take her into the team
"Coach was like, have you played before?" she laughs.
"But I got to try out."
By the following week she had convinced Francis, now
known more often as Francie or Frannie, to join the
"Oh, I was so happy!" Francis smiles happily, clapping
The girls had to learn dribbling, game rules and
shooting from scratch.
"A lot of people quit, but we don't quit," they agree,
talking back and forth. "We gave up a lot of things for
basketball but we stick with it and it's worth the
Coach Hayner says the girls have both improved
tremendously since the beginning of the school year.
"They work really hard; their work ethic is very good
and their understanding of the game has improved," he
said, "They're really good kids; they're good natured
kids, and every new experience excites them."
Francis and Sara explain that European schools don't
offer music or sports as subjects; instead, children
pay fees to join clubs that offer training in those and
"If you want to do sports or band as a kid or as a
hobby you have to do it outside school in your spare
time," says Sara, who was in the second grade when a
leaflet was distributed in school about extracurricular
Anxious to play the saxophone, mostly because clowns in
her country play the instrument, she says she was "kind
of mad at first" when she instead received a trumpet
which only had three keys and seemed plain beside the
Francis started early in her musical training as well,
in third grade beginning piano lessons. She started
playing the saxophone in the seventh grade and quit
studying piano a year later. For the past two years
she's been teaching herself to play the guitar, though,
she admits, "I'm not good at it; the only thing I'm
really good at is the saxophone."
She had started taking piano lessons in Lavinia when
she first arrived in the States. "She was really nice,"
Francis says regarding her teacher, whose name she
could not recall.
She and Sara enjoy recounting the day when, after
basketball practice, Francis went to her piano lessons
and Sara went home, arriving later to pick Francis up
Francis jumps with delight, "That was so cool! That was
Though the band's marching season was out of the
question for the girls, as weekends at their first host
home was reserved for trail rides, they both eagerly
acknowledge, "We really liked that, too."
A composite picture of
Sara (left) and Francis on a trail ride at Birdsong
Resort in Camden, Tennessee.
Francis was chosen by West Carroll band directors Randy
Wilson and Cory Bridges to participate in the Quad
State Senior High School Honor Band Festival in Murray,
Kentucky on February 26 through 28.
The same weekend, Sara, along with host brothers
Hayden, age 11, and Clint, 13, will travel to
Gatlinburg in East Tennessee with the Trezevant Church
of Christ for a youth rally that will include a ride on
America's largest aerial tramway to Ober Gatlinburg for
The girls adopted Clint and Hayden as their brothers
after moving into the home of Greg and Lori McClain in
Trezevant in October last year.
Lori is a third grade teacher at West Carroll Primary
School and Greg is a salesman with G & C Supply Company
The girls are clearly proud of their little brothers.
"He's our biker brother," says Francis regarding
Hayden. Sara coaxes him into performing on the
keyboard, a talent he's picked up since the girls
arrived. "He's really good at singing too," she says.
Francis nods, "We have talented brothers."
Clint has been teaching his sisters the fine art of
turkey calling, and, despite the fact that both girls
are opposed to guns and hunting as the private
ownership of guns is illegal in their countries, they
good naturedly accompanied "host daddy" Gregory Morris
McClain on a hunting trip earlier this year.
The girls giggle at the use of his full name,
retribution for all the pranks he has pulled on them
since they joined the family. Middle names are uncommon
in Norway and Germany, they explain.
"I couldn't look at Sara without laughing," Francis
chuckles, regarding the hunting trip, leaving no room
for fear any animals might have been harmed during the
Host-mom Lori grins and nods knowingly, "We won't make
hunters out of them but we'll teach them how to call
the animals out of the woods."
Sara's favorite local pastime is riding horses and
going for walks. Slightly built with big eyes and a
tiny diamond stud in the right side of her nose, the
auburn haired beauty is an avowed naturalist. For
humanitarian reasons, she is a vegetarian, and most of
her interests revolve around nature. She dreams of
becoming a journalist, but most of all, a veterinarian.
She also aspires to be a farmer and horse breeder or
wildlife biologist as well as a fire fighter and a
sailor or marine.
She expects to take a year off after high school to
travel around the world before attending university,
and she hopes to return to the United States.
"I want to come back here and own a farm and have
horses because of the climate; The horse culture is so
much bigger here and it's warmer here." The cold and
rain of Norway isn't good for breeding horses, she
Sara's dad, Bjørn, works on an oil platform in the
North Sea and her mom, Mariann, is studying to be a
nurse. While she misses her parents as well as her
13-year-old sister Mathilda, 10-year-old brother Vegard
and her dog Molly, she hopes to stay awhile past June
if her Visa can be extended.
Francis plans to extend her Visa as well, with her mom
Jo-Ann Lawrence, planning to visit at the end of her
stay in June. Both her mother and father, Dr. Reiner
Hausmann, are veterinarians, and she has an 18-year-old
Blonde-haired and of sturdy but slender build, Francis
is a natural beauty as well. Like Sara, she is a
vegetarian, though her dedication was born of the
genetic disorder phenylketonuria, which is treated with
a low-protein diet.
"My child dream was to go one year to an American high
school," says Francis, whose hope was nearly thwarted
when she almost decided to stay home rather than leave
her boyfriend, Sebastian Jaehnke.
"I wanted to go to America to have some fun; somewhere
else to get to know other people from another country
and be responsible for myself," she says. "I'm really
brave to come over here - I'm brave!" she continues,
Locally, Francis likes to swim and ride bicycles.
She, too, plans to take a year off after graduation,
which will take place for both girls two years after
She expects to work in Germany until she can afford a
flight to another country or the Caribbean, then get
work there and "keep doing it until I'm tired of it,
then come back and get my education, and I'm going to
do that with friend (who is presently an exchange
student in South Africa) Tini Grosse," she rambles.
She says she may attend university or college in
America or "somewhere" and wants to become a pilot, a
sailor, or a rancher and participate in a cattle drive
in Wyoming and perhaps own a farm in Canada.
"I also want to be in the Air Force, but I don't want
to be in a war and I don't want any terrorists on my
plane," she declares.
Sara and Francis both relate that being an exchange
student is common in their countries.
"My friends are spread all over the world this year,"
Sara agrees, "It's a lot more common (in Norway) for
students to take a year in a foreign country. I think
it develops you; you learn so much in a year." In
addition to the personal experience, she relates
reasonably, it is a positive attribute to include in
one's resume. And, she continues, it makes one's
English much better.
Both girls speak English fluently, their accents barely
distinguishable, and much less noticeable than the
northern and southern accents of America's own
Geography aside, the girls state the biggest difference
between their countries and the United States - at
least so far as West Tennessee is concerned - is that
Americans are, as a rule, much more conservative.
"It's like Norway was 30 years ago," says Sara.
One fun difference is the anticipation of prom night,
which in Germany is for graduates only and in Norway is
not as celebrated an event.
"It's in April and we're already talking about the
prom!" they relate enthusiastically.
The two hope their experiences will entice American
students to become exchange students, too, and possibly
explore Norway and Germany.
"I really want people to go to Norway because it's a
different kind of nature," says Sara, describing the
long, narrow country accented with islands along its
shore and fjords - long, narrow steep-sided sea inlets
- along the mountainous coast.
In northern Norway, there is no sunshine for four
months during the winter. Instead the skies are graced
with the beauty of the northern lights, or aurora
In contrast, the southern portion of the country sports
beaches, she says, and every so often the northern
lights are seen there as well.
Francis loves the rich, old culture of Germany with its
castles, especially the Sanssouci castle located in
Potsdam. Once owned by King Frederick the Great of
Prussia (1740-1786), the park includes the "new palace"
and a variety of other structures including a historic
windmill, Chinese teahouse, gardens, Roman bath and the
"Orangery": a plant house, gardener's quarter and
"We have a lot of culture," Francis says, elucidating,
along with Sara, both countries' rich cultures and
Francis describes plazas, rather than malls, where
"everybody walks and nobody drives" and people can sit
at the outdoor cafés while musicians perform in the
street. "It's so cool; it's just a cool feeling to be
The two are also lavish in their appreciation of their
"America is really nice," smiles Sara, "The people are
so nice and it's such a big country and so many
opportunities. Really everybody is friendly and nice
"Yep," agrees Francis, "It's cool, it's really
different and it's the biggest and best experience of
my life I guess."
Part of that experience, of course, is the family
they've become a part of.
"They're really nice," Sara says, "They do good;
they're so cool and hip, understanding about us, so
open to what we say."
"They're the perfect host parents," Francis agrees.