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Marble Cake: A Teenager Talks About International Friendship

Lane Schell
Basim Blunt
Lane Schell

Hi, I'm Lane Schnell, I'm a 17 year old senior at Centerville High School. I live with my mom, Susan, my dad, Steven and my younger brother Will. And I just sent off the last of my college applications.

Now, I would say that because of social media, people are more connected than ever and yet still split along so many lines. We're split by politics, religion, race and a hundred other ways. We are more divided than ever.

But here in central Ohio, in my little corner of the globe, I've got something to bridge the divide.

I remember the first day working wardrobe for theater, someone amazing walked into the room and my world.

"I have been like sewing and doing hand crafting stuff in my free time. I have done an internship at a theater in Berlin. I just felt like the right thing to try out."

That's my friend, my comrade, my confidant. Gesa Schultze came here from Germany when I was a freshman. She signed up with a group called Young Life, which does a lot of exchange program work, which helps prepare students with foreign host families.

We got in wardrobe design for theater at the same time, and even though she was two years older, we clicked almost immediately. I translated for her occasionally because even though her English was great, she still needed the occasional boost with some of our clothing terms, whether it was a lapel or hem or something equally niche.

"So when I first entered the high school to make my schedule, I was terrified because there's got to be 2,800 students. And it took me a moment to get used to that," says Gesa.

Of course, we would go to two hours a day of costuming, but we also would hang out at the park near her house or go to the art museum or even go to the movies together.

I asked Gesa about her first impressions of the United States.

"One of the first thoughts I had was that in the U.S., everything was bigger. Mostly everyone is driving a bigger car, like meals are bigger," she said.

Gesa lives mostly with her mom and her brother in a suburb near Berlin where they run a small bakery.

Last year, 2019, I went on a school trip to Germany, 10 days, six cities and lots of Mezzo Mix soda and schnitzel. Gesa and I even met up during the three days our group was in Berlin. Despite all the miles and the months of nothing but Skype calls, we fell back into the same easy, casual routine. I joke about going to her bakery and getting a free slice of marble cake and she'll have to roll me home because she'll have given me so much food.

So obviously, coronaviruses changed a lot of things for us individually. Germany is sort of going back down into soft lockdown.

"Some days like everything's closed and it's something like everyone has to deal with no matter if they're in the U.S. or Germany or any other place," says Gesa

I think my story is really just about someone that I trust and who I think, you know, trusts me. I hope that other people, if they have somebody that they've sort of fallen out of touch with, that they'll reach out to them and say, "Hey"

Lane Schnell is a student at Centerville High School. Special Thanks to Tricia Rapoch, teacher for the Communication Arts Program at Centerville High School. Learn more at the school's website: http://www.centerville.k12.oh.us/CHS. Dayton Youth Radio is supported by the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the CenterPoint Energy Foundation.

This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Copyright 2021 WYSO. To see more, visit WYSO.

Basim has worked in the media for over twenty years, as an A&R rep with Capitol Records and as a morning drive show producer. He is a filmmaker, media arts adjunct, and also a digital editing teacher in the Dayton Metro area. In 2012 he joined WYSO as a Community Voices Producer, and his work has earned him a “New Voices” Scholar award by (AIR) Association of Independents in Radio. Basim has produced the award-winning documentary Boogie Nights: A History of Funk Music in Dayton. He also served as Project Manager for ReInvention Stories, a multimedia docu-series produced by Oscar-winning filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2020, Blunt received a PMJA (Public Media Journalists Association) award for his WYSO series Dayton Youth Radio, for which he is the founding producer and instructor. Basim spins an eclectic mix of funk, soul, and classic R&B every Friday night from 10:00 pm to midnight, as host of the 91.3 FM music show Behind the Groove.