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Up North: Open Spots Available for Duluth Sister City Soccer Exhange

Created: November 26, 2018 05:58 PM

"As a 16-year-old, you're away from your parents, you're in a different country and it's a different culture," said Megan Behrends. "You're staying with another family, so obviously it's very exciting."

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Behrends was a part of the first-ever Duluth Vaxjo Soccer Exchange that took place back in 1998. She reflected on some of her memories which included playing soccer and the friendships she made.

"Those are girls I saw on the playing field all the time and then I got to travel with them for two or three weeks, practice with them, play on the field - it made lasting friendships," she explained about some of the Duluth area players.

Along with connecting with other local players, athletes that participate in the program are grouped with a Swedish player.

"It's really great to meet people who love the same thing you do and just live in a different place," said Michael Reichhoff who participated in the exchange his freshman and sophomore year of high school. "You get to know people and make knew friends that live all the way across the world," he added.

The two year program is open this year for athletes whose birth years fall in 2003 and 2004. Those boys and girls will have the opportunity to travel for about two weeks in the summer and then host the following year.

"Being able to live in a home for two weeks is the most in depth exchange program that you can get," said Duluth Vaxjo President Alicia Dahlin.

Their primary focus is on the cultural aspect of the exchange which is why the program uses soccer as a common ground to make it easier for two cultures to connect.

"It's super different over there. A lot of the landscape is the same as Minnesota, like it's kind of cold and all the woods kind of look the same, but it's a whole different culture and whole different language," explained Max Peterson.

"I had never really thought about going to Sweden before and I feel like a lot of people in Duluth really haven't thought about going to Sweden specifically. I thought it was fun to go to somewhere I hadn't considered before," said Hailey Coda.

Players who want to make the commitment do not have to be a part of a certain club or high school. For athletes who have made the trip, they believe that once you get over the nerves of venturing to a new country, the experience will be worth the memories.

The organization still has spots available for those who want to participate in the exchange program. December 31 marks the soft deadline for those interested.

To learn more about the program visit the website here: sistercitysoccer.org

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