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JULIE ARANT

For several years Julie has been on a journey that has opened her eyes to beautiful people from the nations and has taken her as an "armchair traveler" to the ends of the earth. It all began when her father and mother met a special international friend at a store in Omaha, Nebraska. The visiting international and her parents became fast friends as God seemed to knit their hearts together. From that time forward, their eyes began to open as more and more special friends from around the world began to make their way to United States, and some to Omaha Nebraska. They thought they could help welcome them. The truth is, meeting these friends has changed their lives forever for the better.

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MIKE SCHMIDT

Mike comes to Global Friends with decades of cross cultural experience. His first cross cultural experience came in 1988 when he spent a summer in the Philippines. This convinced him that he loved all things cross cultural. After marrying his wife LaRae, they worked in Niger, West Africa for 18 years. Mike worked in food security projects, oversaw a surgical hospital and various agricultural projects. In 2012, Mike returned to teach in the intercultural studies department at Grace University. He has been the director of operations for Global Friends since 2018.

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NATHAN WILLIAMS

Nathan moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 2010 and has served with Global Friends since 2014. He loves laughing with friends, learning new words or phrases in another language, or getting the opportunity to help a student find answers to questions. Things he dislikes include ladders, dance floors, walking on a roof, and cottage cheese. Nathan loves to travel and has had the privilege to visit a few European countries, Zambia, and the Dominican Republic. He enjoys reading, so if you are looking for a book to read please feel free to ask him for a suggestion!

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RACHEL HAGEDORN

Rachel is a Nebraska native who loves meeting people from all over the world. Some of her favorite things are exercising, learning about other cultures, ice cream cones, encouraging college students to become leaders, and laughing with friends. During college she spent time in the Dominican Republic and Thailand teaching English to local students. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a Human Resources Management degree in May of 2018. Rachel now works with Global Friends, eager to welcome and meet students from all over the world.

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TARA RYE

Tara’s love for cross-cultural exchange began in college when she developed friendships from all over the world. Her husband was surprised when she had Happy Birthday sung to her in seven languages on her birthday. She has traveled to several nations and loves to learn about people and their culture. Her family hosted three foreign exchange children from Korea, and this gave her a mother’s heart for the needs of those visiting her city from other nations and began her journey in growing in hospitality. Soon, she discovered what other nations do for hospitality and put those into practice in her own life. Tara loves to invite people over to meet her family and share a meal. A house filled with people brings her great joy. Her favorite pass-times not only include being with people, but also include quietly studying, or drawing!

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JENNI SHERWOOD

Jenni has a love for welcoming new friends to America and learning new languages. She is a Nebraska native with a degree in Global Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduation she spent time as a Refugee Resettlement Case Manager, where she got to learn from and share life with families from Iraq, Thailand, South Sudan and more. She also enjoys being outdoors, baking sweet treats, playing games with friends, and dreams of visiting many of her dear friends around the world one day.

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LUKE SPAFFORD

Luke is a native of Colorado and lover of such topics as excellent books, incredible cultures, and fascinating people. He has had the opportunity to travel overseas and has spent two months in Jordan helping with the Syrian Refugee Crisis in 2014, and spent two months in Russia assisting in English clubs in 2017. He graduated from Toccoa Falls College with a Cross-Cultural degree and a TESOL minor. He now works with Global Friends, excited to be able to spend time with peoples of every nation and all cultures!

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DEAN & CINDY LINDGREN

Dean and Cindy worked and lived in Turkey for the last 26 years. When asked why they’ve enjoyed living in Turkey, Dean always points to the warm, hospitable people and the great food. Tasting an Adana Kebab and salad made with fresh Turkish tomatoes and peppers always brings their taste buds alive. Cindy enjoyed learning to make local foods and pastries and seeing how the Turks do hospitality. Dean graduated from UNL with a degree in Agriculture and helped bring a new brand of seed to Turkey. He worked with a great multi-national team alongside several Turkish seed companies.Their children all loved growing up overseas and today one lives in Budapest and another in Istanbul. Since Turks gave them such a warm welcome over the past 26 years, Dean and Cindy want to do the same for international students who are new in Omaha.

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JOHN ALFORD

John loves to hike, go to movies, and travel. He's had the opportunity to go to Zambia, Turkey and most recently Italy & Oman. A few years ago, he built an unusual house on his family's land so that it would be a fun place for welcoming friends.