by Lisa Tome
Up until August, 2014, Jamie and Amy Davis had three children, Christopher, 21, Mindy, 19, and Saralynn, 16.
The Rising Sun couple have now added another teen to their brood by way of Antonia Seifert, 17, of near Hamburg, Germany.
Seifert came to the area as an exchange student whom they connected with through the Youth for Understanding organization. The Davis' now consider her family.
"I do feel like family, absolutely," said Seifert.
"We consider her a third daughter. We are already talking about planning a trip to visit her (when Seifert returns to Germany)," said Jamie Davis.
Seifert applied to be an exchange student two years ago. She had lived in the U.S. for a year as a child. Her father had studied in America. She was also hoping to put her language skills to the test. She has studied English since third grade. "It was always my dream to come here. My dad was an exchange student. I applied two years ago and got accepted a year and a half ago. I had to apply and get recommendations it really was a lot of work," Seifert said.
Since coming to Rising Sun, she has been attending Rising Sun High and taking classes such as Honors Drama, Psychology, Band, Chorale, Algebra 2, and U.S. History. She has also taken trips with the family and was asked to the school's prom. She also appeared in the school play.
"The classes are easier here," she said. She said she has fielded a number of silly questions and has made some friends. She also ate lobster for the first time and experienced traditional American Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday festivities. The Davis family, in turn, adopted a German tradition, putting out shoes on December 6 - which is an alternative to the American stocking hanging.
"I like learning new things and getting another perspective. Meeting new people? That's fun," she said. She also attended a Ravens game and is going to a Taylor Swift concert.
The Davis family was looking to host a teen, ideally, close in age to Saralynn. They were able to provide what is required - a bedroom, study space, and transportation. All those in the family over age 18 had to have a background check. They were also hoping to find someone who shared their interest in church activities, likes music and drama, and would fit into the family.
"This has been such a wonderful experience. She's been a fabulous, near perfect exchange student. It really is that we have a fourth child and that will be forever. And Amy feels the same way. We recommend this to everyone. We've learned at least as much as she has," said Jamie Davis. Anyone interested in hosting an exchange student can get information at yfuusa.org.