Simon Schneider can't seem to get enough of America.
Schneider, 20, is back for his fourth visit and this time he is sticking around to help teach physical education and tutor students at Immaculate Conception School in Columbia.
Simon first came to this country in April 2009 as part of a three-week Sister Cities exchange program between his hometown of Gedern, Germany, and Columbia.
"I like America," he said. "There is a totally different attitude here. People are friendlier."
He said he made some good friends in his short first stay and one of those friends was able to return the exchange visit in the summer of 2009. Simon came over again that fall and then again in 2011.
He worked a job in Germany in addition to going to school and was able to save some money to pay for his trips.
He arrived in late December and is staying with the family of his good friend this time. He hopes to hang around for about six months and is volunteering to help with physical education and other classes at the school.
The PE teacher, Laura Edgar Whelan, said it has been a good experience for everyone.
"I never had an assistant," she said. "I wasn't sure what to expect. But it's been fun. The kids really like him."
On Thursday, Simon moved from station to station in the school gym helping the kids with volleyball drills. He also helps out with cafeteria duty and is putting together some PowerPoint history presentations.
He plans on tagging along on a trip some of the students will take to Washington, D.C., later this year.
When he goes back to Germany, he hopes to attend The German Sports University in Cologne. He said he has passed the recruitment test and is waiting to be accepted.
"I eventually want to coach athletes, learn about the body and how it works," he said. "I want to know how to train myself and others properly."
And if he misses his family terribly, he will get some relief in April. That is when his younger sister is scheduled to come to Columbia with another sister city exchange.
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