Around Annapolis: Summer Sisters

The Capital (Annapolis, MD), August 8, 2008, page B2’
By: Diane M. Rey


Taylor Lewis spent a lot of time hanging out with her sister this summer, lying on the beach, going to amusement parks, laughing together and listening to music.

It sounds like pretty normal stuff, but at the end of July, Taylor had to say goodbye to Natalia Herran Martinez when Natalia boarded an airplane to head back home to her real family in Madrid, Spain.

Although the teens aren’t actually related, they forged a sisterly bond over a four-week period through the Intercultural Friends Foundation, a nonprofit student exchange program founded by Severna Park resident Miriam Rheinstein.

This is the second summer that Taylor and her family, who live in Gambrills, have hosted a student from another country. Taylor, a senior at Annapolis High School in the International Baccalaureate Program, said the experiences have broadened her understanding of the world.

“I just like getting to know another culture and getting to meet someone else,” said Taylor, 17. She plans to keep in touch with Natalia through e-mail and instant messaging and hopes to visit her family in Spain some day.

That kind of long-term connection is a goal of the program, said Joann Smith of Edgewater. An IFF coordinator for 19 years, Joann made the local arrangements for the 11 Spanish students and one chaperone who stayed with Annapolis-area families this summer. She’ll oversee another group – her 50th – when 30 Spanish students stay with area families from Sept. 4 to 25. The students who participate generally are 14 to 17 years old.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Joann, a former Spanish teacher who works as a substitute and tutor in county public schools and opens her home to foreign visitors. “I feel I have family members throughout Spain: sons, daughters, grandchildren,” she said. “My ultimate goal is when the whole family goes to visit the family of the student who stayed with them here. That’s a great opportunity.”

The recent group from Spain was kept busy during their stay, learning about American culture and seeing the sights.

They kicked off their visit June 27 with an orientation and welcome luncheon at Atria Manresa, the Annapolis retirement and assisted living center where Taylor’s mom, Dawn, is the community sales director. The Spanish students sang and danced for the residents.

“A lot of our residents are well-traveled. It sparks their memories and allows them to reminisce,” said Vicki Lomax, director of the center’s activities program.

Following the luncheon, the group took a guided tour of Annapolis. Other group excursions took them to Washington, D.C., Six Flags America in Bowie, and to Westfield Annapolis mall for a movie and shopping day.

With the Lewis family, Natalia was able to see and experience much more. They took her to the African-American Heritage Festival in Baltimore, the Belair Mansion in Bowie, George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia and to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, among other outings.

Natalia spent the Fourth of July in Annapolis, viewing the parade and fireworks. She also sat in on

Taylor’s jazz dance classes at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

“They have truly hit it off,” said Dawn while Natalia was still in town. “Every night they watch a ‘film’ as they say in Spain. I can hear them giggling ’till I fall off to sleep. They’ve really bonded,” she said.

Natalia, 16, described her American family as “very nice, friendly and welcoming.” Since her English is a bit halting, she turned to her newfound sister, Taylor, for help with the translation.

To volunteer to host a Spanish student in September, send an e-mail to

For more information about the Intercultural Friends Foundation, call 410-647-9500 or visit

The Annapolis Striders are looking for more volunteers – 250 to be exact – to help out with the 33rd annual Annapolis 10-Mile Run, which goes off at 7:45 a.m. Aug. 24.

A signature summer event in Annapolis, the run has a field of 5,500 runners who start and end at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

There are openings for race-day workers and pre-race events. All volunteers will receive a commemorative T-shirt. Area hotels and restaurants also are welcome to set up booths or provide fliers for the Race Eve Expo that runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 23.

“We have people from all over the world come into Annapolis for this event,” said Donna Cogle, volunteer coordinator. “If you can’t run, you can still come out, have fun and support the local running community (as a volunteer).”

To volunteer or for more information, call Donna at 443-623-6628, send an e-mail to or send an e-mail to volunteer co-coordinator Lynne Traher at

How often do you get a chance to eat watermelon with a queen?

You can from 4 to 7 p.m. today at City Dock, when the national, Maryland-Delaware, Alabama and Florida watermelon queens will be in town to promote locally grown watermelons now, during the height of the season.

Free watermelon slices will be given away at the event, which is sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Mar-Del Watermelon Association. There will be seed-spitting and watermelon-eating contests as well as giveaways, including recipes.

It all takes place near the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial.

Tomorrow wraps up National Farmers’ Market Week, so if you miss out on this event, you can head to one of the local farmers markets and pick up a watermelon of your own.

Below is a rundown of farmers markets serving Annapolis. You can find more sources for local produce, learn what’s ripe now and get recipes and more online at

Anne Arundel County Farmers Market

Location: Riva Road and Harry S Truman Parkway

Hours: 7 a.m. to noon Saturday through Dec. 20; and 7 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Oct. 28

Annapolis FRESHFARM Market (new)

Location: Donner Parking Lot, Compromise Street

Hours: 8 a.m. to noon Sundays through Oct. 5

Westfield Annapolis Farmers Market (new)

Location: Mall parking lot near Sears Automotive

Hours: Noon to 3 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 28

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