EHS senior gets late start for good reason

-A A +A
By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

EHS student Annabel McKee said she is working hard to catch up after missing several days at the beginning of her senior year, but she’s not complaining.

Because of a friendship that bridged time and continents, McKee spent the last three weeks of summer break in Sweden.

It was a reciprocal invitation from McKee’s mother’s past.

“When my mom was in high school her family had an exchange student,” she said.

McKee said when Charlotte Hahne was 17, she spent an entire school year with the Brown family in Todd County. Hahne returned the favor by inviting JoLynn Brown McKee’s 17-year old daughter to visit her family in Sweden.

“It was just friends keeping in touch with friends,” McKee said.

She arrived in Stockholm after an exhausting nine-hour transatlantic fight.

McKee’s first impression was that everything was smaller.

“The houses and cars,” she said, “and even the roads are smaller.”

McKee said she was pleasantly surprised that a majority of people walk and bicycle to their destinations. “Everybody is really healthy,” she said. “There’s not so much fast food.”

She said though Hahne spoke perfect English, daughters Fanny, 8 and Agnes, 6 spoke only Swedish.

“We were able to teach each other,” she said.

McKee said they used hand signals and facial expressions to convey meaning and read and reread books together.

“They have Richard Scarry books that are Swedish to English,” she said. McKee said she also taught Fanny the names of colors in English.

She said she got to do a lot of sightseeing that included palaces, cathedrals and Viking burial mounds. McKee even had her senior pictures taken in the garden of the Drottningholm royal palace. She said her hostess recruited a local photographer she knew to take the pictures.

“It was just amazing,” McKee said.

They also visited Stockholm’s Old City that dates back to the 1300s. “It kind of looks like Italy,” she said.

McKee said it took her awhile to get used to local cuisine which relies heavily on fish, but gave rave reviews to Swedish pancakes. Swedes fill and roll the crepe-like confections.

“The girls and I ate them with strawberry jam and applesauce,” she said. “The grownups ate them with salmon and some kind of sauce that was like horseradish.”

McKee is now home and into senior year mode. “I’ve been really busy with volleyball practice, a homecoming float to work on,” she said. “I’m just trying to keep calm.”

McKee plans to attend the University of Kentucky following her 2010 graduation. She intends to train for a profession in the medical field.

“I may become a registered nurse like my mom,” McKee said, “or a pediatrician or physical therapist.”

She said she may not finish her degree at UK.

McKee’s lasting impression of Sweden has her researching options. “I’m considering Stockholm University for my last year of college,” she said.


E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.