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Julie Backes is new Aspect program coordinator

“We all remember the foreign exchange students from when we were in school,” said Julie Backes, the new Aspect Foundation international coordinator for the 120-mile Osakis area, including Osakis, Long Prairie, Sauk Centre, Melrose and Browerville.

With her experience with children, and her background of having hosted an exchange student from Brazil in 2003, Backes and her family were a perfect fit for the job being vacated by Marilyne Morisette after 17 years.

Backes has spent well over 15 years in the Osakis School system, the past 12 years as a fourth grade teacher. She is also a familiar face in the community, coaching Osakis High School track, and serving as a waitress at O-Town Tavern.

The Backeses still keep in touch with their exchange student through Facebook.

“You have kind of a familial connection to them forever,” Backes said. “It’s a very life-changing thing, in a positive way.”

With Backes in the Osakis school every day, it will be easy to keep track of the exchange students coming to Osakis in August. As coordinator she will be in contact with her students and family monthly, and will be available for any situations that may arise.

Host families will also be able to have a back-up host in the Backes and Morisette families if there is a need.

New to the job in January, Backes has already signed three students for fall. One student from Germany and one from Norway will be in Osakis. A student from Finland has been placed with a host family in St. Michael-Albertville. Backes is hoping to sign up two more for Osakis for the coming year.

“This year is the first year in 17 years that Osakis has not had a student. It’s a big part of the tradition at the school,” Backes said.


Families interested in more information about the Aspect Foundation and possibly hosting a student this coming school year may contact Julie Backes at (320) 333-5269.

Those interested can also refer to the Aspect Foundation Facebook page, or log on to the Aspect Foundation home page on the Internet, where there is a multitude of information on the program, application information, and background.

“Traveling is a huge part of learning,” said Backes, and she is looking forward to expanding the background of students coming to the area through the Aspect Foundation program.


Julie and her husband, Paul Backes, have three children, two of them enrolled at Osakis High School.

Mariah is 21, and a salesperson at Diamond GMC in Alexandria. Grant, 18, is a senior at Osakis High School, and Jacob, 15, is a freshman.