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Morisette retires after hosting 17 students from seven countries

Marilyne Morisette (left) has retired from her position as Aspect Foundation international coordinator and the new coordinator for the Osakis area is Julie Backes (right), who started in January. (Photo by Roberta Olson, Osakis Review)

Marilyne and Albert Morisette were raising five kids of their own, and in 1998 they decided to open up their home to a foreign exchange student.

That decision was a turning point in their lives. Since then, Morisette has spent the past 17 years as an international coordinator for the Aspect Foundation exchange program – and in the process the family has hosted 17 students from seven different foreign countries.

Because of her busy schedule as co-owner of LindRite Precision in Osakis with Dan Kotek, and the fun of being a grandmother to eight grandchildren, Morisette has resigned her position with Aspect, and is training in two new international coordinators, including Julie Backes for the Osakis area, and Denise Cayo at St. Michael-Albertville.

Morisette will serve as a back-up for the program during the training program, and has not ruled out hosting more foreign students in their home.

“Albert and I will be hosting again, in the near future, but not this coming school year,” Morisette said.

“I love this program. International kids have always intrigued me, even in high school,” she said. “I always thought I could understand them.”

During her first year with Aspect Foundation, Morisette placed six students in the Osakis School District. Her Osakis record, though, was placing seven students in Osakis during the year 2001.

Within her whole area, Morisette has placed more than 50 students in the Osakis district alone, and supervised more than 350 students in the surrounding communities.

The area covers a 120 mile radius of Osakis, and many area communities have had Aspect students for a semester or for a full school year.

TRAVELING

The Morisettes have made several trips to Europe to visit past Aspect exchange students they have hosted. Last December they traveled to Miami, Florida where they spent five days with their Norwegian student, Fred. In 2002, they traveled to Germany to visit students. In 2008, they toured Germany, and in 2009, they traveled to Brazil to visit former students there.

“When we get invited to their country and their home, it’s special how their parents are so appreciative of what we did for their kids. It’s kind of like a lasting friendship.”

In April, the couple traveled to Germany for two weeks during Easter break and visited five of their former students. One of them was their very first student, Kerstin, whom they met with her parents for a meal.

“The students have come to our family as strangers and left as a family member,” said Morisette.

SPECIAL MEMORIES

“One time in 2007, Albert and I had to take two vehicles to the Twin Cities to the airport to pick up four exchange students, and our daughter at the same time. That was fun,” Morisette smiles.

The Morisette family treated each exchange student like family. They had to abide by the family rules and participate in Osakis High School activities.

“The majority of the kids had to try out for at least one sport. They had to participate in some school activity. We encouraged sports and being involved in school.”

Their rules also included making good choices on friends.

“The who, what, when, where and why,” she nods. “Most of the kids were pretty respectful.”

They were expected to help around the house and participate in family events, which included things like visiting sites in Minnesota including Itasca State Park, the Mall of America, and a Minnesota Twins game.

The exchange students accompanied the Morisettes to church every Sunday, “and most of them enjoyed it.” As for American traditions and food, “The kids love the Tip Top. It’s their favorite place to eat! Every student spent most of their money at the Tip Top. They all loved their American food,” Morisette said..

That was good and bad, as some of them added a few pounds – 5, 10, 15, 20 – as a result.

MORISETTE FAMILY

Marilyne and Albert have five children and eight grandchildren: Jessica lives in Dallas, Texas with her two daughters. Kayla and her husband, Josh, and three children live in Richmond, Minnesota. Scott and his wife, Kerry, serve in the U.S. Air Force, and live in Delaware with their three daughters. Lisa, also in the Air Force, lives in Reimstein, Germany. Michael lives at home and works for area farmers.

Morisette’s last end-of-year orientation will be held in May in St. Michael. Her last day as international coordinator will be June 17.