Everyone Savannah Wenzl knew at her small Nebraska high school was from just a few miles away.
That was until Peter Kok arrived.
He was an exchange student from the Netherlands, a 4,000-mile trek.
She remembers Peter introducing himself to her senior class of 22 students in fall 2005 in the Lewiston Consolidated Schools in southeast Nebraska.
His English was solid, but he spoke with an accent. He wore a neon yellow T-shirt and orange gym shorts, and his hair was spiky with help from some gel. At 6-foot-4, Peter was the tallest boy in the class, and he was handsome.
Savannah was intrigued.
She had always dreamed of traveling someday and loved hearing about other countries.
Whenever she had a chance she’d ask Peter about the Netherlands, a group of provinces including Holland in northwest Europe.
Lots of students asked him questions, but Peter thought Savannah’s were more thoughtful.
Instead of just asking what kind of food people ate there, she asked about the transportation system, the form of government and music.
Peter was intrigued.
He wanted to get to know her better, so he asked if he could call her for help with his math homework, even though it was one of his best subjects.
Soon he asked her out, and for one of their first dates, they cheered for the Huskers at a football game in Lincoln.
Peter spent lots of time with Savannah’s family, and her parents liked him from the start.
Peter loved American food, like the burgers made with fresh Nebraska beef grilled by Savannah’s dad. Sometimes Peter and Savannah fixed dinner together at her house, shot hoops in the driveway or took walks at a nearby lake.
After graduation, Savannah finally got a chance to explore. She took a three-week trip to the Netherlands where she and Peter visited Gothic-style churches and museums and floated on Amsterdam’s canals.
They continued their relationship as they both attended college in Nebraska.
On a July day in 2009, they married at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Steinauer, Neb., and now have a 2-year-old daughter named Lydia.
Peter is a special education teacher at Bellevue East High School, and Savannah attends graduate school studying to be a school psychologist.
She has traveled more than she ever imagined, taking about a dozen trips to the Netherlands with Peter, and also visiting Germany, France and Belgium.
Savannah sometimes thinks back to her senior year at her small Nebraska school and how she never expected she’d meet a tall Dutchman with wild hair who would show her the world.
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