Special to the E-T

Recently, when Stephenville Police Officers came across a case of pills with German labels they knew right where to go for answers: Academic Year in America exchange student Lea Witt from Germany.

According to Stephenville Police Sergeant Gary Roberts, the pills were located in the vehicle of a subject arrested for Driving While Intoxicated and officers couldn’t tell if they were prescription drugs or illegal drugs and thought they may have played a part in the driver’s impairment. “She had an entire case of these pills, hundreds of them,” Roberts said. “All we could tell was that the writing on the bottles was German and we didn’t have a clue what they were.”

Since Lea’s host father, James Gresham, is also a police officer they knew right where to turn. “They called me and asked if Lea could translate some German for them. I was thinking they had a letter or website or something. I wasn’t expecting several dozen pill bottles.”

After Roberts and Sergenat Robbie Rudder brought the pills to Lea she was able to quickly determine that they were not illegal drugs, rather a “herbal remedy” designed to counteract the effects of alcohol.

“The instructions said to take two pills for every alcoholic drink you consume” said Lea. “The pills were supposed to reduce the alcohol in your system and prevent hangovers.”

According to Rudder, the pills didn’t work. “The subject went to jail for Driving While Intoxicated.” Rudder said. “If the pills where somehow working, she didn’t take enough of them.”

Lea, a 16 year old Congress-Bundestag grant student from Schleswig near the border with Denmark, was pleased to help out. “It was fun,” she simply said.

As for her Host Father, who also supervises 12 other exchange students in the area, he was just happy his students were helping solve crimes and not involved. “I’d much rather my students be involved this way with the police than on the other side,” Gresham said. “I’m also happy they can contribute to our community while they are here.”

As an Academic Year in America (AYA) student, Lea is one of over 1,000 other AYA exchange students throughout the country, including over 60 Congress-Bundestag grant students from Germany. AYA is currently celebrating its 26th year of exchange students and is part of the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) that was founded in 1964 by the late Robert Kennedy to promote cultural and educational exchange programs. AYA is currently seeking host families for the 2008/2009 school year. Please visit www.hostintexas.com or www.academicyear.org to learn more.

You can also contact James Gresham at 254-592-5286 or email him at jgresham@hostintexas.com.