November 26, 2020

HHS students exposed to other cultures through foreign exchange program

(Franklin) – The Heard County community has been fortunate during the 2012-2013 school year to host two European foreign exchange students.

This became possible thanks to a program started by Cultural Homestay International, a non-profit organization founded in 1980 that promotes international friendship and goodwill through educational exchanges.

An immediate impact was felt last fall when Nane Renner and Ana Bolaños Molina first began roaming the halls at Heard High School and different cultures began to intermingle.

In fact, both girls have excelled in their new American classrooms and both girls have participated in extra curricular activities as well.

Nane, a 16-year-old junior from Germany, was a member of the Marching Braves Band during football season and Ana, a 16-year-old sophomore from Spain, participated in athletics, earning a spot as a reserve on the Lady Braves tennis team.

Nane hails from Wesendorf, Germany, a city of about 5,000, where she attends Gymnasium Hankensbütt, a specialized academic school of about 1000 students. She says that her German school is very challenging and her grades at HHS have reflected her academic prowess. She scored 95 and above in all of her first semester classes here at HHS.

She is fluent in both German and English in addition to taking advanced Spanish courses. Because of her time here, Nane will need to repeat a grade when she returns to Germany. Nane cites art teacher Ron Hunt and Spanish teacher Maritza Reneau as her favorite teachers at HHS.

The move to the very rural Heard County has also been quite the change for Ana who lives in Madrid, one of the world’s largest cities. Madrid is the capital of Spain and the metro area of Madrid is home to 6.5 million people.

The rural life here in Heard County is in stark contrast to her normal city life back at home where she rides the subway to school everyday.

Ana attends M.M. Concepcionistas, a large Catholic school with about 1500 students from grades K-12. Like Nane, Ana is also a very proficient A-student. Ana has grown especially fond of her science teacher, Mr. Ed Brown, a long-time HHS faculty member.

Both girls agree that their European schools are much more difficult academically than typical American public schools.

Pictured above (L-R) are German exchange student Nane Renner, West Georgia area coordinator for Cultural Homestay International Mrs. Annice Sorrells, and Spanish exchange student Ana Bolaños Molina.

Pictured above (L-R) are German exchange student Nane Renner, West Georgia area coordinator for Cultural Homestay International Mrs. Annice Sorrells, and Spanish exchange student Ana Bolaños Molina.

Ana does not think she could ever adjust to the rural way of life permanently, but she does speak highly of her time spent here in Heard County.  “I love how the people are so nice and talk to each other. The people here are so country and not concerned about how they look all the time. I love the country way of life,” stated Ana.

Nane has been pleasantly surprised by her reception from other students here. “It was so easy to find friends here. Many of the other students were so friendly, asking me many questions about my German way of life,” added Nane.

One difference that Nane notes about the schools here in America are the extracurricular activities. In her German town most sports, band, and other activities are usually sponsored not by the school, but instead by the communities much like recreation programs here.

The two girls have made many friends here at HHS. Ana is even hopeful to be able to return next year for her new best friend Ashlyn Summerlin’s graduation. Both girls have also grown especially close to junior Erica Hendrix. Typical of many teenagers here in the states, Nane and Ana enjoy many American restaurants such as Steak and Shake, Taco Bell, and Olive Garden.

Another important aspect of the girl’s stay here has been the sharing of living space with their respective host families. Nane is being hosted by the Scott family which includes Jeremy and Christine Scott as well as their two girls, Lilly and Piper.

Nane states she has become close with Lilly, a freshman at HHS. She has also enjoyed spending time with Lilly and Piper’s grandmother, Jeannette Scott.

Sorrells says that contrary to popular belief, exchange students supply most of their own spending money, while the host family provides room and board.

Ana has been hosted by Tony and Julia Hand and their two boys, Cody and Dallas. Ana and her host family learned early on last fall just how much an exchange student can become a part of the family.

Ana’s host mother spoke specifically about Ana’s presence when she lost her grandmother last fall. “Within two months of Ana arriving here, my grandmother passed away suddenly. Having her with us has been a blessing. Ana told me when my grandmother died very simply, ‘I am here for the good and the bad.’ Ana is an amazing person,” stated Julia Hand.

Hand also added,” I am so thankful that we decided to host Ana this year. It has been the best experience for us and our family. Having her as a part of our family has been amazing. It has been as if she has been a part of our family all along and we love her so much. We will miss her so much when she returns to Spain.”

The West Georgia area coordinator for Cultural Homestay International is retired Heard County art teacher, Mrs. Annice Sorrells. Sorrells plays a hands on and  integral part in the hosting process. She meets regularly with all exchange students and the host families, serving as an intermediary between the two.

Ana with her favorite HHS teacher, Mr. Ed Brown

Ana with her favorite HHS teacher, Mr. Ed Brown

“We have a very long and stringent process for picking both the students and the families to make sure they will be compatible and the benefits will be mutual. Students are expected to do chores and contribute to the host family as much as possible including cleaning and maintaining their own rooms,” stated Sorrells.

When asked about their favorite experiences during their visit, both girls thought of many. Nane was especially excited about visiting Disney World with the Scotts, while Ana recalls fondly spending time at the lake with Ashlyn as well as many moments with the Hands.

If anyone is interested in hosting an exchange student or has any questions about Cultural Homestay International please feel free to contact Annice Sorrells at(770)854-4178. You may also visit



  1. Great article Russ!! We have all learned so much from these beautiful, smart, and loving young women. We are so blessed to have met them and have them in our lives. I would like to thank their families for sharing their wonderful children with us.

  2. Wylene Spearman says

    We enjoyed having these girls at Heard High.

  3. Wonderful article…thank you for helping them share their experiences! Just one small correction….the website is Thanks!

  4. Russ Massa says

    It is corrected thank you Becky! 🙂

  5. Kim hinely says

    Mr. Brown still a favorite teacher…a caring, dedicated professional after all these years!

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