On Thursday Jasmin Enz rushed home from school to bake bread to enter at the Kansas State Fair. She's an experienced bread-maker, but not a typical student nor a regular fair contestant.
Enz is a 21-year-old IFYE (International 4-H Youth Exchange) participant who has been living with the Jerry and Anita DeWeese family for the last three weeks. On Thursday she spent part of the day at Skyline School, visiting a kindergarten class and making a presentation for a geography class.
Until this summer, she had never been to a county fair, much less a state fair. She's looking forward to seeing the butter sculpture and the milking barn, because she lives on a dairy farm in Switzerland.
IFYE is a short-term exchange for 4-H alumni or other young adults, age 19 to 26. She has always wanted to travel and the program doesn't cost a lot of money, while allowing her to see how families live in another country.
Switzerland doesn't have a 4-H program, Enz said; the closest equivalent is a young farmer program.
School looks different between the two countries also. A Swiss student attends school for nine years, then has three years of vocational training. She speaks Swiss German at home, and learned proper German at school, along with English and French. Without an opportunity to practice, the French is mostly gone, she said, but English is spoken in businesses throughout Switzerland.
Enz learned to be a housepainter, but after three years, decided that was not what she wants to do. She worked one winter at a ski resort and lives on a dairy farm with her boyfriend. During the summer, he will have taken the cows to the mountains, but returned each day to make hay, take care of pigs and sheep and bring the milk in to be marketed. By the time she gets home, the cows will probably have been moved back to the farm.
There are living quarters in the barn in the mountains, but no TV or Internet access. Enz said that's not a big deal for farm kids, but young people not raised on a farm would miss the games and social networking, just like an American kid.
She arrived in Kansas in early June and has lived three weeks at a time with four families. She was in Stafford County during fair time. It was nice to see how the kids worked really hard with their animals or other projects, she said, and the rodeo — her first — was a big hit.
Host families have also taken her to various museums, like Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita and Boot Hill in Dodge City. She tried to water ski at Coldwater Lake but couldn't get up. There are lakes near her home, but she said not many people can afford boats.
"I'm better at snow skiing," she commented.
She misses the mountains of Switzerland the most — and really good chocolate.
In Kansas, she liked the county fair the best and the hot weather, although she agreed that 105 degrees was "a little bit too hot, but still okay."
The state fair will wrap up her Kansas experience. On Saturday, she will leave for three weeks in Canada, where she will travel with friends before heading back home.