Barry and Zola Steinman pose with their Chinese guests. Front from left are Jia hoa Shen and Gavin Ellison. Back row from left are Yoa lou Shen, Yany Shen, Barry Steinman, Zola Steinman and Shi lin Sue.
By Amy Gully
The Albany Ledger
Albany residents Barry and Zola Steinman had the pleasure of having six Chinese people accompany them at their home July 7.
The Steinmans are members of the Friends of International Students at the Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. Through this program, they “adopt” or host foreign students at Northwest State University. In doing so they introduce these students to what life is like in rural America by showing them different aspects, such as farms that they are not accustom to.
“The reason that we got into Friends of the International Students was the ability to give foreign students the opportunity to know what American rural life is like,” said Zola. “It’s not what you see on TV.”
The student they hosted this year was from China and her name is Leilei Li or Leia for short. Leia came from Changsha in the province of Hunan, which is located south of Beijing. She is currently a student at Northwest working through graduate school.
Leia along with her friend Zhoa qi, a freshmen at Northwest, visited the Steinmans’ house to enjoy a meal and a tour of their farm. Leia also brought typical food from her home country to show Barry and Zola, which included cereal, a snack food made from beans, and another snack that resembled an American fruit roll up. Along with Leia and Zhoa, a Chinese family also joined them: Yany Shen is a friend to Leia and he and his family, mother Shi Lin, father Yoa lou Shen, and younger brother, Jia hoa Shen. Yany Shen and his family were visiting the United States on a 20-day visa.
The Steinman’s said their guests really enjoyed the experience and took pictures of the cows, fields, and gardens because it was a new experience for them. They even took a group photo with the cows in the background. Barry said when he was explaining agriculture to them he said they “were mesmerized that we owned our own land because they cannot own their own land.”
The Steinmans started their first international student program in 1978 through the American Field Service where students came over from a year of school. Throughout their years in the program, the couple had a Panamanian girl and then a boy from Iceland in 1984 while they lived in Salisbury, Mo.
“We skipped many years” without having a student, said Barry. After some time another opportunity made its impression on them. Upon visiting Northwest for several years while watching their daughter Heather sing for the tractor cruise, the Steinmans saw many international students.
A sponsor to the foreign students saw the couple talking with the students and spoke with them about the International Student Program. Not long after signing up, the Steinmans were able to host a student. In 2011, a student from India named Raijhia, who was studying for his master’s in computer science, came to visit the Steinmans. Later in 2012, the Steinmans hosted a boy from South Korea. Now in 2014, they said they’ve had a wonderful time with not just one student but six.
The Stienmans said they thoroughly enjoy being apart of the Friends of International Students and they hope to “give the true meaning of living in the U.S. and that these students can go back home and they can educate their people on the true rural American life.”