Exchange students are 2 peas in the Sahlstrom pod

SISTER ACT — Exchange students Anja Suter (left) and Isadora Manfio are like sisters even though they have very different personalities.

By Per Peterson

Opposites really do attract. If you don’t believe it, just ask the Sahlstrom family.

This year’s exchange students at Tracy Area High School — Isadora Manfio from Brazil and Anja Suter from Switzerland — are both staying with the Sam and Melissa Sahlstrom family.

“It’s really fun because their personalities are kind of opposite, which actually makes it better,” Melissa Sahlstrom said. “They are sharing a bedroom right now; it works really well because they just click. If one is stressed, the other is calm. One is shay, the other is outgoing. I think it’s a perfect match.”

The two juniors couldn’t be happier anywhere else.

“It’s so different, but it’s nice,” Manfio said. “A lot of culture. I’m so thankful to have Anja with me — we’re like sisters now, you know?”

Suter enjoys being part of a big family.

“It’s really nice. I like it because you can always speak to somebody,” she said. “And they have a lot of guests. I also like to be in the garden and work — at home I never do this. Here, they make food for the winter, which we will freeze.”

The two students have more than each other in their new home. Way more.

Nine of the Sahlstrom’s 11 children are living at home. Their entire clan includes: Ben (married to Naomi with Ole, 4, Maple, 3, and Havilah, 1); Annika (married to Nathaniel with Andrew, 2, and Timothy, nine months, living in Alaska); Charisma, 22, currently home this semester after working in Kauai, HI at a Bible College; Becca, 21, soon to be married this month; Reuben, 19, working on his apprenticeship with the family business; Amelia, 17, a junior; Katrina, 15, a freshman; Erina, 13, and in seventh grade; Simeon, 10, and in fifth grade; Johann, 8, and in third grade; and Alaina, 6, and in first grade.

“In my home in Brazil, I have one sister,” Manfio said. “She got married, so in my home it’s me, my mom and my dad. That’s it. My sisters here are like my real sisters. It’s a nice, big family.”

See this week’s Headlight-Herald for more on this article.