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For 18 Years, Raleigh Man Offers Foreign Exchange Students a Home Away From Home

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RALEIGH — For 18 years, one Raleigh home has been open to European students who want to experience America.

In those years, foreign exchange host Emmett Fontaine has left many students with a favorable impression of this country.

Fontaine has filled his daily schedule with helping foreign exchange students get around to see and do the same things their American friends do.

"And the one I have now, Kai Olberschmidt, is a tennis player and hopes to be able to play on the Broughton team this spring," says Fontaine.

Olberschmidt, an exchange student from Germany, finds it challenging to fit sports into his busy study schedule.

"English is especially hard, but I am hoping it will get easier," he says.

Olberschmidt is spending one year as a student at Broughton High School and as a guest in Fontaine's home.

"Soon after my wife died, a student was coming from France and needed a place to stay. So I offered him to stay here. And it worked out so well, I continued on," says Fontaine.

Eighteen years, 18 students from France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway.

"I think having someone in the house and having someone to care for and to do for certainly keeps you alive and active," says Fontaine.

But after all these years, Emmett Fontaine wonders if he can keep up with his own expectations of giving students the experience he believes they deserve. This year could be his last.

"Well, I have said for the last five or six years that this was my last year. I think this might be my last year, but I never know. I've said it before," he says.

Even if his hosting days end, the fruits of his hospitality have already filled his life with lasting friendships.

Three of Fontaine's past foreign guests liked their experience in Raleigh so much they came back to go to college atN.C. State University.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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