Dekarskes spend summer abroad

Published 9:49 am Friday, July 20, 2012

Maddie and John Dekarske, the children of former Franklin residents Sally and Bob Dekarske, are spending their summer abroad.

A 2010 Southampton Academy graduate, John is studying in England as part of the 2012 Virginia Program at Oxford. A rising junior biology and chemistry major at Hampden-Sydney College, John is studying Tudor and Stuart history and literature.

Students from five colleges in Virginia participate in the program.

On the weekends, John has visited England’s prehistoric monument Stonehenge and Scotland.

John plans to get his doctorate in toxicology or biochemistry.

Maddie, a rising senior at Castle High School in Newburgh, Ind., is spending seven weeks in Brest, France, as part of the Indiana University Honors Program for Foreign Language. The 17-year-old is one of 33 students from Indiana living with a host family.

The students study French history, culture and the language during the week and take weekend excursions. She will spend her last four days in Paris.

Maddie has one hour a week to speak English; she uses that hour to chat on Facebook with her parents.

After high school, she wants to study French in college and is considering becoming a doctor and working in a country where she can speak the language.

The Dekarskes left Franklin after International Paper closed its Franklin mill in 2010. They moved to Newburgh, where Bob is working for IP’s mill in nearby Henderson, Ky.

Sally and Bob met while working at IP in Franklin. A chemical engineer, Sally worked for the mill for 10 years. The family left Franklin for six years and returned for another 12 years. During that time, Sally was the librarian at Southampton Academy and served on the board for the Blackwater Regional Library.

• Nansemond Suffolk Academy is looking for families to host three exchange students from China.

Those who have applied to NSA include Weiyang Ma, 18, from Shanghai; and Jing Qian, 17, and Min Ni, 18, both of Changzhou

Some of Weiyang’s interests include sports, music, acting, fashion, reading and traveling. She enjoys watching basketball and loves the Boston Celtics. She visited California last summer.

Jing Qian’s interests include reading, listening to music, singing, shopping, watching movies and traveling. She describes herself as outgoing and independent as well as a leader and helper in the classroom.

Min Ni’s interests are art, fashion, painting, drawing, shopping, traveling and singing. She is hoping to improve her art skills so she can attend Parsons The New School for Design and major in fashion merchandising.

If interested in being a host family, contact Debbie Russell, director of admissions at NSA, at or 539-8789, ext. 3348.

GWEN ALBERS is managing editor of The Tidewater News. Her email address is