GREENVILLE - For the second time since 1988, Hega Holstad returned to Greenville, where she was an exchange student hosted by the Steve and Becky Garrett family.
The first time she revisited was for two weeks in 1994, when she brought her husband, Bard, and, this time, the couple brought their four children, whom have never seen America, for a family vacation. Besides, Hega wanted to stop in Greenville to show them where she spent her 10 months as an exchange student.
“We were all very excited,” Becky said prior to the visit. “A couple of her friends that she came to know will be around to see each other.”
Among other things, the Norwegian family which includes son Mathias, 18, son, Simon, 15, daughter Hannah, 12, and daughter Andrea, 9, did while here was be treated to a swimming party at the home of Becky’s sister, Dottie Sue Baker, on Saturday afternoon.
“They’re loving it; they’re so much fun,” Becky said. “They’re health-conscious.”
She added tearfully, “I just wish Steve was here. He died in 2000 on Hega’s birthday [Sept. 24].”
Becky said Hega was a beautiful and still is.
“She’s a physical education teacher and Bard is a registered nurse,” Becky said. “They’re very fluent in English and English is a required second language.”
Hega and her family flew into New York and Washington, D.C., were here five days, and are then heading Gatlinburg and Florida before flying home, according to Becky, whose last name now is Ress.
Since Hega, the local family hosted four other exchange students; one boy and three girls, some of which still stay in touch.
Members of the Garrett family include Nathan, who now lives in Michigan but was unable to make it to the weekend event, Jaime of Centerville and Nikki Harter of Greenville. There are also nine grandchildren.
Becky said Jaime, now 41, and Hega, 43, ran cross country and track together when she was an exchange student at Greenville.
Becky, daughter of the late John and Dorothy Neireiter Boner, is glad that Hega’s family have been visiting her.
“I must have made a good impression on them,” she said.
Becky said she, too, has been to Norway [in 1992] and has met Hega’s parents, three sisters and a brother.
“They live on an island,” she said.
Another one of Becky’s sisters, Marilyn “Blondie” Parks, took Hega and her husband to Washington, D.C., the last time the couple was here five years ago.
“It’s great being back,” Hega said. “I have not been here for 20 years. I enjoyed my time here. I learned a lot. I’m very grateful to them [the Garretts]. Steve’s not here. I miss him. He was a great man.”
She and her husband were both from the same town, sang in the choir together, played in the band together and did sports.
“We had been friends,” she said. “Finally, we got together and were engaged after six months.”
She concluded, “I love to travel. My kids have never been here and I wanted to show it to them.”