Danish teen in exchange program, Marble Falls host family learn from each other
MARBLE FALLS — With all three of their children at college or in the “real world,” Mike and Allyson Black thought they would enjoy being empty nesters.
PHOTO 1: Frederik Filsoof (left), host brother Alex Black and host mother, Allyson Black, attend a Texas A&M University football game in College Station during the 2012 season. Filsoof is an exchange student from Denmark who is attending Marble Falls High School as a junior and playing basketball for the Mustangs. The Blacks introduced him to other American sports, including college football. Courtesy photo
PHOTO 2: Marble Falls High School junior forward Frederik Filsoof (back) cuts off the route to the basket for Cedar Park senior forward Jamie Xia during the Mustangs’ 42-38 win Jan. 2. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
Only, they didn’t. They quickly became bored without the activities associated with teenagers. So the couple decided to welcome another child into their home — a foreign-exchange student.
At the same time, a young Danish student named Frederik Filsoof was hoping to spend a year at an American high school. As a basketball-loving Dane in a country where European football — also known as soccer — ruled, Filsoof wanted a chance to play some hoops on an American high school squad.
The Blacks read Filsoof’s essay and letter about wanting to come to America through the Education First Foundation for Foreign Study.
“My husband said, ‘That’s the one,’” she said about Filsoof. “And, so, I think it was that easy.”
Filsoof said living with the Blacks this school year and attending Marble Falls High School as a junior has been great for many reasons. One of the biggest is because the couple is accustomed to the challenges of active teenagers.
The Blacks didn’t waste any time introducing Filsoof to Texas and American activities.
“They’re really cool, they showed me around when I came here, and my host dad has a Jeep he likes a lot,” Filsoof said. “We went rock climbing. It’s really awesome. They like sports a lot. Back in Europe, not all the families like sports a lot, so my host mom is really cool. To see her screaming and stuff when there’s football on the TV, that makes me real happy to see. They all like to watch me play basketball. We go to watch the football games. It’s awesome.”
The Blacks regularly attend Mustang boys basketball games to cheer on Filsoof and his teammates on the varsity squad.
The couple also introduced him to a true American, and especially Texan, activity – college football. And not just any college football. They took him to a Texas A&M University game during the regular season in College Station, where Filsoof learned the 12th Man tradition.
Making the transition from a Danish high school to its Texas counterpart hasn’t come without some challenges, but Filsoof said he loves attending Marble Falls High School.
“It’s kind of different in the way people learn here. People take tests all the time. I’m not really used to that,” Filsoof said. “But I like it a lot, and I love the teachers here, too, and it’s cool that you have so many coaches, and coaches teach, too. It’s kind of nice.”
Allyson said she and Mike thought they would be simply helping a student learn in the United States. Instead, she said they’ve gained another family member.
“I feel like I’m kind of part of (his) family as well as he is part of ours,” she said. “So, the experience has been way more than I expected — and in a great way.”