OTTAWA — Ottawa residents Stan and Emily Karhoff are hosting two sisters from Mexico where the siblings will have adventures visiting the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, going to Put-In-Bay by ferry, hiking, swimming and learning to water ski.
Stan, a retired farmer and a rural postal carrier for 24 years, and Emily, a retired second-grade teacher at SS. Peter & Paul for 24 years, met Dany, 15, and Ximena Perez, 17, when they got involved with the Ninos Adelante (Children Going Forward) program. It is a scholarship program for students in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, who are smart, driven and from families in need. With a small stipend from the Karhoffs, they can continue their education without having to go to work to help their families.
The Karhoffs have become good friends with the Perez family and previously served as a sponsor for the Perez’s sister Mayra who went to college and now is a certified chef and teaches English in Mexico.
“Since the Perezes had lived in the United States for a few years they spoke good enough English so we could communicate with them,” Emily said. They were born in Georgia and lived there with their parents until they were ages 4 and 6 then moved to Mexico. There are about 210 kids in the program currently, sixth grade through college and have sponsors from the United States and Canada.
The sisters arrived at the Columbus Airport on July 16 and will return to Mexico on Aug. 6. It was the sisters’ first time for going on an airplane as they flew from Mexico to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Columbus.
On the way to the Karhoff’s home from the airport, they visited the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. On Thursday they enjoyed burgers and ice cream at Tony’s. They will have the opportunity to hike in Hocking Hills, visit Mansfield Prison as both families are fans of the movie “Shawshank Redemption” and go to Cedar Point or Kings Island. They will swim, have bonfires and cookouts, go to the drive-in, go to Lutzenburg Park and the Mazza Museum. Other plans are to do crafts and go bowling.
The Perez sisters will assist with vacation Bible school next week where the Karhoffs are members. They also will visit Ottawa Elementary where the Karhoff’s daughter, Jill Schumaker, is a fourth-grade teacher
When asked about their thoughts on Ohio they said it is very different than what they are used to.
“Everything is organized and clean and the houses have big yards,” Dany said. She learned how to speak English five years ago and her sister has spoken English for the past three years. Dany enjoys American musicians such as Bruno Mars, Ricky Nelson and Frank Sinatra and loves to sing. She has dreams of becoming an engineer one day.
She has enjoyed eating fast food while in Ohio and said there is not a McDonald’s or Burger King where she and her sister live. She also was surprised by dishwashers and air conditioning and said families were asked to contribute funds to pay for an air conditioner for her school.
Ximena likes to dance and help her mom cook and said her impressions of people in Ohio are that they are polite.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.