Empty House filled from abroad
Piediscalzi housing two international exchange students
Most people do not like to live alone. Anneita Piediscalzi is one of those people. She was forced into that situation when her husband, John, also known as “Captain Jack” passed away last year.
Piediscalzi, who lives in Bridge City and owns ReMax Realty, tried to keep herself busy at work. She also kept busy with the organizations she belongs to, including the Rotary Club, Orange Power Squadron and the Orange Board of Realtors, where she serves as a director. She was installed as the new President of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce last month and is the Educational Director at St. Mark Lutheran Church on Roundbunch Road.
That didn’t fill the emptiness she felt, so last year she decided to become a CASA volunteer. At this time she is an advocate for three children in the Orange County Area. “It’s great,” said Piediscalzi. “It’s very rewarding.”
The length of time she will work with these youngsters is undetermined. “It depends. It could go on until they’re grown, at least until they are permanently placed,” she said.
“Some children never get placed, so it could go on until they are 18.”
As rewarding as being a CASA volunteer is, she still went home alone at night. One phone call changed that. One of the organizations that places foreign exchange students called her house asking for her husband. “They got us out of the phone book,” she said. “It was like an answer to a prayer.”
She not only accepted one student into her home, but took two in. Lisa Etter, from Germany, arrived in Bridge City on Aug. 19. A few days later on Aug. 24, Icy Koo from Hong Kong arrived. The house was no longer empty.
The girls are registered at Bridge City High School and attend St. Mark Lutheran Church with Piediscalzi. Saturday, they were helping at a car show held by St. Mark with help from the Southeast Texas Cruisers. This was the first car show for the church, but they have had three other events to raise money for a new fellowship hall.
As the girls checked out the cars, they discussed some of the things they expected and didn’t expect when they got here and what some of the differences were between here and their home country.
Etter expected Bridge City to be more like west Texas. “I thought it would be all cowboy hats and boots,” she said. Etter was surprised at how friendly the people are and their laid-back personalities. Koo agreed with that.
“It’s more simple” said Koo. She talked about how busy and big Hong Kong is.
She was also surprised by the number of cars here. “Everybody has cars. We don’t have cars.” In Hong Kong, people use the subways. It’s almost too crowded for cars.
“No tall buildings,” Koo also said about Southeast Texas. She thought we would have skyscrapers like Hong Kong.
“I get a little bored sometimes. Nothing to do at night. At home, malls stay open till about 1 (a.m.),” she said.
Koo also expected Texas to be all sandy. “I thought you could swim in the bayou, but no, too dirty.”
One of the things was not culture shock, but climate shock to Etter. “The weather changes; one day it’s freezing, the next, hot,” she said.
Etter was really shocked that people don’t cook. “It’s all fast food. We don’t really have fast food.” The only chains in Germany are Burger King, McDonalds, and Subway. She has eaten at Subway and the menus are the same. “I’ve gained 15 pounds,” she said.
Hong Kong has most of the major chains. Most of the menus are the same with one exception. In Hong Kong, the food chains also serve rice. “No tacos,” said Koo
Neither Germany nor Hong Kong have Wal Mart stores.
Were they disappointed that Bridge City was nothing like what they expected? “Not at all,” said Lisa. “It’s nice, very nice.”
Both agreed that school in America is easier than at home. In fact, Etter will repeat the eleventh grade in Germany because the school system there does not except class work from the United States.
Koo said the main obstacle for her was her English. “Language more hard, my grammar’s worser,” she said.
One of the things that, “really impressed me… how all the kids work,” said Etter. “They get out of school and go to work until 11:00 like it’s nothing.”
The two have enjoyed their stay in the states and both plan to come back after they leave in June.
Etter will be back in August with her parents. Their itinerary includes New York, Florida, New Orleans, and Bridge City. Her parents want to see where she spent her year. Etter will then stay two more weeks so she can visit with the friends she made this year. She wants to come back at least once a year.
Koo will be coming back to the states to graduate and spend about five years here. She is actually a United States citizen, as she was born near the Hawaiian Islands.
“I don’t know where to begin,” said Etter about what things she will share with friends when she gets back home. “Language, I’ve picked up a lot of the slang,” said Etter. Her friends back home have already started picking at her when she talks to them on the phone.
When the girls leave, “I’ll go crazy,” said Piediscalzi.
“Actually, Icy will be coming back next year. She is going to graduate from Bridge City,” said Piediscalzi. “I might get another one for Icy, so she’ll have someone. It has really worked out well…and I have three bedrooms.”
Piediscalzi said in the mean time, she will be getting busier with her real estate business. “Business is going to be really picking up. It will be next year when it gets in full swing. It’s on the upswing now,” she said. Of course, she will continue her volunteer work and will be at the helm of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce.