This year, the International Program at Fox Valley Lutheran High School celebrates 50 years! Since 1970, we have had the joy of hosting hundreds of students all over the world. These students have opportunities to experience American culture, make new friends, and learn more about God and his Word. The families who open their homes to these students, in turn, have opportunities to learn from them and share Jesus every day.
Over the coming weeks, please enjoy the stories and memories shared by past host families.
“He (Mike) is one of the best blessings that has ever happened to my family.”
The year was 2000, which was a big year for FVL. A brand-new school was built and ready to prepare young brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the Fox Valley region.
For Reggie Wingate, starting his freshman year at a new school wasn't the only exciting event happening that year. Mike Beke, who hailed from Arhem, Netherlands, traveled overseas to spend a year in Hortonville with Reggie and his family.
When Mike first arrived in Hortonville, Reggie said Mike was taken aback by the lack of public transportation. In addition, Mike was used to riding his bike everywhere in the Netherlands.
"He wanted to know if he could ride his bike into Appleton or take a bus," Reggie recalled. "Well, if you know the area, this is not really an option."
Although it was a bit of a learning curve, Mike became accustomed to travel times, school, country, living, and Wisconsin culture. According to Reggie, Mike was always willing to try new things and became very engaged with FVL activities. He joined the soccer team and cheered on the Foxes at other sporting events.
Reggie also recalled a time when Mike sang "Stand By Me" in Dutch at the Homecoming Frolic.
Overall, Mike's experience was made great by the friends he made and the FVL staff who welcomed him with open arms.
"He (Mike) truly embraced life in America, making many memories with lifelong friends he made at FVL," Reggie said.
Reggie and his entire family stayed in close contact with Mike and his family after his time at FVL. In 2010, they even had the opportunity to travel to Torrelaguna, Spain to celebrate Mike's marriage. Reggie traveled with his parents and grandparents, and they were met by Mike's and his fiancee's entire family. In addition, six former FVL classmates also made the trip to Spain.
Although the ceremony was given in Spanish and Dutch, Reggie remembered it was a very beautiful ceremony. They spent the night in the Spanish countryside, taking in the views, embracing the culture, and celebrating the momentous occasion.
Reggie recalled seeing his family together with Mike's family and how happy and proud they were of Mike.
"Their wedding was one of the happiest days I have ever had," Reggie said. "It really showed me the meaning of family and how blessed I was to have Mike in my life."
Even now, Reggie and his family keep in touch with Mike and his whole family, either by Skype, email, or occasional trips across the Atlantic.
"He is one of the best blessings that has ever happened to my family," said Reggie. "I would like to thank FVL for giving Mike and many more international students the opportunity to attend and experience a life that we are so fortunate to have."
- Reggie Wingate, FVL class of 2004