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A cultural experience: German exchange student loves everything about living in Ely

Keith Vandervort
Posted 3/14/19

ELY – “It’s been a blast here in Ely.” Those were the words used by Finn Liesching, an Ely Rotary Club-sponsored foreign exchange student, as he shared his experiences about his year as a …

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A cultural experience: German exchange student loves everything about living in Ely

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ELY – “It’s been a blast here in Ely.” Those were the words used by Finn Liesching, an Ely Rotary Club-sponsored foreign exchange student, as he shared his experiences about his year as a student and athlete at Memorial High School at a recent Tuesday Group gathering.

Liesching is the youngest of four children and hails from a small town in Germany, just 30 minutes from the French border. While he spends his junior year of high school in Ely with the Tom and Heidi Omerza family, his real family is hosting an exchange student from Mexico.

“It’s been such a good time. All the people are so welcoming,” he said about Ely. “I can just say it’s been awesome to have them as a host family,” Liesching said of the Omerzas. “They have really taken me into their family.”

Liesching came to Ely in part to hone up on his English skills and to try out American sports, especially American football.

While he grew up playing soccer, the national sport of Germany and most of Europe, Liesching became a fan of American football though watching National Football League games on television. “I tried out for a team and it turned out that I love it.” He played for the Ely Timberwolves last fall and started on both he offensive and defensive squads. He was a standout player as quarterback and receiver. “It turned out I wasn’t too bad,” he quipped

Downhill skiing is another of his hobbies in Germany. He regularly skis in the Swiss Alps or the Black Forest area.

He was introduced to American basketball this winter and was a member of the Timberwolves team during their most recent playoff run. “The Omerzas are a basketball family and I didn’t really have a choice. It turned out to be quite a good experience. The team took me in and it has been a lot of fun,” he said. Liesching and Eric Omerza are basketball teammates and in a slide presentation he showed off a plethora of memories, from dress-up days and school dances to the Homecoming parade and trips to the Twin Cities.

Liesching reaches new heights while rock climbing, and is a creative photographer utilizing his drone to gain new perspectives.

“I also like baking, especially birthday cakes,” he said. “I make lots of cakes.”

He also enjoys drawing. ‘”This is a way of calming down,” he said. “I like the process of using my hands.”

He even tried Minnesota’s national sport of curling this winter. He admitted that he didn’t think it looked that fun, but he said he really enjoys the sport. “I hope to keep doing it.”

Liesching admitted that the cold of winter in Ely was a bit difficult to get used to.

In Germany, there is some snow and temperatures don’t get below 32 degrees, according to Liesching. “For the first time, my eyelashes froze. I was surprised by that.”

Liesching has volunteered as a teaching assistant in the high school’s German class and he also helps out volunteering at the Ely Area Food Shelf.

He is planning to attend college and may pursue a career in law, “after I tour the world and return to visit Ely,” he said.

The Ely community is also hosting exchange students from Norway, China and Ukraine this school year.

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