BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Paruttana Oncharoen, “Toey,” of Bangkok, Thailand, headed to Clarkston for her summer vacation.
“I dreamt about coming back and visiting lots of times – I can’t believe it’s happening,” said Oncharoen, a former exchange student at Clarkston High School. “I missed all this, all the people here.”
“It’s not often we get to see these kids again,” said Mary Sloan of Independence Township, who hosted the exchange student with her husband, Jeff Lichty, during the 2013-2014 school year.
Now a college student, Oncharoen is preparing for her senior year studying mass communication and journalism at Thammasat University in Thailand.
She wants to be a television or movie producer, work in advertising, or plan events, and booked a two-month work and travel exchange program for college students. She is working at Target Field in Minneapolis, planning sports events.
At Clarkston High School, she participated in the AV department, delivering the news during lunch.
“It was pretty cool, exciting,” she said. “Speech class was very helpful. I wasn’t that good talking in front of people. That class helped.”
Competing on the tennis team was also fun, she said.
Oncharoen’s trip to the U.S. will also include the west coast.
“While she was here studying, her family hosted a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Los Angeles. When Toey’s internship is over, she’s flying to LA to spend time with that girl’s family,” Sloan said.
Clarkston Area Rotary Club works to place exchange students with host families, and is responsible for most of the exchange students, Lichty said.
They have placed 1-3 students each year for the last 10 years, he said. Planned this year are three exchange students, from Thailand, Switzerland, and Ecuador. They are staying with local host families Jeff and Mary Schleusener, Don and Donna Blower, and Cynthia and Darwin Moore.