I’d like to welcome Sven Christiansen to the blog, and thanks for being with us. Can you tell us how old you are and where you live?
A whopping 53, and Fishers, Indiana, a northern suburb of Indianapolis.
What do you do for a living?
President of USA Homestays – placing international college students to live with local families. Plus more.
Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?
Okay, well, I’ll link to your organization’s website anyway, if that’s all right. How did you get into working with international students?
(At this point Sven and I had a lengthy phone conversation going around the mulberry bush a few times. We were neighbors twenty-five years ago, and it was a great chance to reconnect. We talked about families and kids and the international college kids he’s met and had the opportunity to get to know. The whole talk was a lot of fun, but it would take several pages to transcribe. I’m also, quite honestly, not a particularly good notetaker on phone conversations. The upshot is that there are lots and lots of international students who come to college in America and are looking for opportunities to stay in American homes and make friends and learn from each other. Sven has WAY more students interested in doing this than he has host families for, in several metropolitan areas. He’s always looking for more host families, and would also love to have coordinators to start this work in new areas. Check out the website for more details.)
The most interesting place you’ve visited?
North Korea. I was there before Dennis Rodman made it cool. (Clearly there’s a story there…)
Okay, what were you doing in North Korea?
During my college days, my dad was stationed in South Korea (US Army). I visited the family during the summers, at which point I also had summer jobs/internships. These jobs were always at AFKN, the American Forces Korea Network, TV and radio for troops. During one of my summer jobs, they had an armistice meeting in Panmunjam on the DMZ. I went and covered it. The meeting area is divided down the middle between North and South. Media are free to roam across the dividing line. I took two steps into the North and then two steps back to the South. That was enough for me.
Your favorite meal would be?
You’re an outdoorsman. Tell us about some of your trips?
Each summer we take a group of students to the mountains of Colorado. Each spring break we take a group on a 50 mile hike through the Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona. The canyon hike is brutal. I love the Colorado trip because all the young studs can go hiking to their hearts’ content while I stay at the lake and fly fish.
Love the “Circle Trilogy” by Ted Dekker and “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
If people want to pray for you, they could pray for……?
Us to meet the right international students and the right host families.
Tell us about your family?
Been married to the same paragon of patience for 27 years. Four kids. (Kelsey is a social worker in Indy, Connor plays football for Elon University, Chase just left for Alderson-Broaddus University and will play volleyball, and Mikayla is a freshman in high school.)
One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Hmm. Well, there isn’t much I can do… I guess some people are surprised I can speak German.
When and how did you learn to speak German?
I was born in Berlin and German is my native tongue.
If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Read a novel.
Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I’d also like to write a novel.
Assuming you were serious about “I’d like to write a novel,” can you tell us what genre appeals? Western? Thriller? Sci-fi? Literary?
Thriller. For sure.
Can I ask you to offer some advice to canyon hikers?
Ha! But, seriously?
Serious advice: train, train, train before you go. And watch for quicksand.
Okay, and thanks much, Sven. I appreciate you taking the time to let us get to know you a little, and may God bless and guide you and your co-workers in your work with Homestays.