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SPANISH STUDENTS TASTE LIFE IN UTAH, GIVE GOVERNOR TASTE OF SPANISH CANDY

SHARE SPANISH STUDENTS TASTE LIFE IN UTAH, GIVE GOVERNOR TASTE OF SPANISH CANDY

Speaking at ceremonies in his native Spain is something he is used to. But for 17-year-old Pedro Calleja, making a presentation to Gov. Norm Bangerter was "completely different."

Pedro was spokesman for the group of Spanish exchange students who visited the state capitol and Kearns Mansion Friday, presenting the governor with native Spanish gifts of itvioletas - candy shaped like violet blossoms - for the candy dish on his desk and an Alfar ceramic plate for the state's first lady."It was quite a breathtaking experience," Pedro said of the event.

The visit to the governor's office and home were part of a six-week adventure for 23 exchange students from Spain who are living with host families in Utah County. The students arrived late July 3 and will say goodbye to their new American friends early on Aug. 14.

The Spanish group sponsored through Pacific Intercultural Exchange is one of several programs that bring foreign high school students into the area, some for short summer stays and others for the entire school year.

The Spanish students attend school weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Orem High, learning English in classes with Karen D'Andrea. In addition to the language, they learn about American and Utah culture through special presentations and field trips.

Guest speakers for the class have included a local jeans manufacturer, the manager of a local bank, and a nurse from Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Educational field trips have been to the jail and courtroom at the Orem City Public Safety Building, WordPerfect Corp., and ZCMI as well as the state capitol and Governor's Mansion.

The activities have been organized by F. Lucille Starr, Orem, who has placed the students with local host families the past several years and is affectionately known to them as "Grandma." The students enjoyed a cultural evening at Utah Pageant of the Arts and rode horses in the scenic South Fork of Provo Canyon. They will spend a day in Logan at the Festival of the American West next Saturday.

There's also plenty of play time built into the schedule, with outings to Seven Peaks water park and Lagoon topping the list of student favorites. Spur-of-the-moment evening excursions to Star Palace dances and Classic Skating have given the Spanish students more taste of what it's like to be a teen in Utah Valley. (Susana Nunez, 15, got a first-hand look at the emergency room when she had to be treated for a sprained wrist incurred at the roller skating rink.) All of the students enjoy shopping at University Mall. They consider Levis, which cost upwards of $80 per pair in Spain, to be a real bargain here.

Orem High senior Carl Hacking, whose family is enjoying its fifth exchange student - Pedro Florianes - said he's gone swimming more than usual with his new friend. Pilar Gomez-Romero, 17, got an extra bonus with the Dave and Ardie Raddatz family: a trip to Disneyland.

Irmgard Lutzow, 15, said there are too many good things to choose from to tell what she's enjoyed most during her stay, but she pinned down Friday's Salt Lake excursion to the governor's mansion. "I liked the furniture and the woods" in the many rooms, she said. First Lady Colleen Bangerter was out of town, so her daughter, Ann Gayheart, led the tour through the mansion, including the upper floor ballroom, which is seldom seen by the public.