For the first time, students in Shattuck have a foreign exchange student among their peers.

Soo Yoon, from South Korea, arrived in the United States last January. Originally living in Miami, Okla., she moved to Shattuck with her host parents Lisa and John Beavers. Yoon said her host mother Lisa Beavers is now the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Shattuck.

Lisa Beavers said she and her husband saw an ad in Miami’s local newspaper and decided to open up their home extending their family and becoming host parents for the foreign exchange student.

“We had an extra room and we felt like we wanted to do that. We felt like it was the Christian thing to do,” said Beavers. “Soo Yoon’s a teenager, but she’s a good kid and we just treat her like she’s one of our daughters.”

Since the family relocated to Shattuck last summer, the 16-year-old has integrated into the all-american, rural, small town way of life according to high school peers.

“She’s just a true American,” said Whitney Harris, a sophomore at Shattuck. Harris was one of several bubbly teenage girls who gathered around Yoon as she was interviewed by the Woodward News. Indeed, small town, rural life agrees with Yoon as she seemed completely in her element amidst friends who appeared to have adopted her as one of their own.

Yoon’s decision to study in the United States stemmed from a certain frustration with the Korean school system.

“She wanted to learn English, and she thought she had more educational opportunities,” Beavers said. “The way their school system works, people have different tracks. Essentially, depending on your grades and talents, you’re only allowed to study certain things or attend certain schools whereas here anyone can go to college that wants to.”

“She’s getting a taste of freedom and she’s really enjoying it,” said Mack Morse, superintendent of Shattuck schools.

Yoon described the Korean school system as limiting with little opportunity for individual expression.

“I didn’t like studying, so I didn’t like school,” said Yoon. In Korea, students take up to 13 classes and have 12 hour school days.

“It was so different. I never played sports before,” Yoon said.

“This is not a foreign exchange student. This is someone who wanted to come to school in the U.S.,” Morse said.

School officials describe Yoon as gifted and outgoing. In addition to bonding with classmates in Shattuck, Yoon has also had the opportunity to participate in basketball, softball and the school’s choir.

According to Morse and school Principal Randy Holley, Yoon adds a certain cultural element to the school’s atmosphere that students may not otherwise have been exposed to.

“A lot of our kids, the only time they leave the state is on organized trips. They live in a pretty small world out here, a lot of our students,” said Holley. Holley said having a student like Yoon attend the school incorporates “culture and the idea of what it’s like somewhere else.”

“It’s a different opportunity. It’s a different way of being able to see.” said Morse. “It brings that exposure.”

Yoon’s student visa will expire in January, but she’s decided she doesn’t want to go back to Korea. She wants to remain in the United States to finish her senior year of high school in Shattuck, after which she’d like to attend college at the University of Oklahoma. Beavers said Yoon will return to Korea in December where she will apply for an F-1 visa which would allow her to remain in the United States as a student until after college.

“When she goes home at Christmas, we’re not going to know for sure if she’s coming back or not,” said Beavers.

Yoon will learn in January whether or not she is eligible to return to the United States to complete her education.

Eventually, Yoon would like to make her home permanently in the United States.

“I like it here a lot. I want to live here probably,” Yoon said.