It’s been nearly two decades since Antje Steller first left Flin Flon, but it still feels like her second home.
Stellar, a German, first came to Flin Flon as a 16-year-old Rotary Exchange student in 1997. She recently paid a return visit.
She still remembers how she felt when she came to Flin Flon for the first time.
“I was pretty nervous and excited when I got here, and I just loved it,” said Steller. “I did all the winter camping, canoeing, a little bit of skiing – didn’t do that at home.”
Steller’s time in Flin Flon as a teenager included attending Hapnot Collegiate and taking in the various sights and activities the area has to offer.
“I really enjoyed the snow, the Northern Lights, the outdoors,” she recalled. “In school I made friends pretty quickly.”
After her yearlong exchange was up, Steller moved back to her hometown of Celle, a small city about 40 km away from Hanover. She finished high school and went on to university, graduating with a Ph.D in electrical engineering.
Now married with two children, she brought the whole family with her on her latest trip back to Flin Flon. She has found time to come back to Flin Flon twice before –in 1999 and again in 2002, with her future husband, Daniel.
When asked how Flin Flon has changed since she first arrived, Steller pauses.
“It’s still a lot like it was back then. You’re still very nice people,” she says. “I still like the lakes and the outdoors.”
Bringing her family along has changed the way she sees the community..
“The thing is, most changes don’t happen within the things I see, but more within myself,” said Steller. “When you grow up and have kids and have seen more things in the world and you come back, things change.
“I was surprised at how small Flin Flon actually is. It’s not smaller than it used to be, it’s just a different way that I look at it, compared to a 16-year-old.”
Steller and her family’s stops this visit included the Flinty’s Birthday celebrations at the Flin Flon Station Museum on Aug. 14.
“We still meet people that I knew when I was an exchange student here and [whom] I met in my visits in between,” said Steller.
“I’m just surprised at how comfortable I feel, and how easy people make it for us to feel comfortable. That’s just something nice about Flin Flon.”
Steller still keeps in touch with her former high school friends and her original host family, Gerry and Linda Clark. In fact, Steller and her family stayed with the Clarks during their visit. They were due to leave Flin Flon last weekend.