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By LuAnn Schindler

After 17 years, exchange student makes return trip to Clearwater


August 24, 2023

Tammy Bearinger | For SAM

Back home • Helar Duran visits with Rita and Bob Kester, at their home near Clearwater. Duran lived with the family, in 2006, as a foreign exchange student and returned for the Kester's 50th wedding anniversary.

As sunlight trickled through the window at the Bob and Rita Kester home on a recent Sunday morning, Helar Duran felt like he was transported to 2006, felt a sense of familiarity and peacefulness reminiscent of being home.

"It feels like I'm 16 again. Waking up at the farm ... it's a good sensation," Duran said.

The Cucúta, Colombia, native spent a year as an exchange student at Clearwater Public Schools. He recently returned to celebrate his host parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

When Duran arrived in 2006, he asked Bob how many people live in Clearwater.

"Four hundred," Kester replied.


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