The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

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(photo contributed by Thomas Wright)

The Wright home

Orchestra teacher continues tradition of hosting foreign exchange students

SHS is filled with traditions, new and old, that sets it apart from others. One tradition, in particular, serves a special importance to one teacher and creates a once in a lifetime opportunity for students all around the world. 

Orchestra teacher Thomas Wright has been hosting exchange students with his wife for 22 years, which has allowed him to introduce American culture to others while also allowing them to bring their culture into a new home.

This tradition began when Wright taught English in other countries through a Christian organization. As he shared the English language around the world, he learned that many children were interested in attending school in the U.S.

“As I was doing that and I was meeting students from different countries, they all expressed interest in coming to America to either attend school for a semester or a year,” Wright said.

After making this discovery, he began hosting one or two exchange students each school year. 

Through this, he has grown to believe that even while SHS is home to a variety of diverse populations, it is crucial to continue to welcome more exchange students. 

He understands that inviting students from countries such as Germany and Spain gives a different “feel” than encountering the current populations at SHS.

“It gives us a different perspective of interacting with them that’s different from our Burmese and Latino communities,” Wright said.

His wife, Beth Wright, shares the same mindset that SHS might not need exchange students to increase the school’s diversity, but that exchange students are solely not only for diversity.

Rather, she believes that it’s a new chance for people to learn from one another and created a smaller world.

“Each interaction with each different person improves our lives, or can if we let it,” Beth said.

While the couple gains a view of different foods and traditions within their students, they introduce them to American culture as well.

Wright makes certain that each year, he flies to New York City with his student to share life growing up.

His childhood consisted of visiting the city during the summers to visit his grandparents and feels it was a “highlight” growing up.

Although Wright grew up in NYC and spends each spring break with his exchange students there, he never grows tired of visiting. 

“I never get tired of taking kids to see the Statue of Liberty, to see our great value as a country for openness and tolerance and the melting pot of immigration that is a hallmark of who we are as Americans,” Wright said.

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About the Contributor
Lucy Len Dim, Features Reporter
Hi guys, I’m Lucy Len Dim! I’ve always loved being able to express ideas and feelings through writing, so I joined the Journal as a Feature reporter. I try to be involved and open myself up to new opportunities so I joined Drama Club and I serve as  the Sophomore Class President. After high school, I plan to study psychology and teaching alongside theater arts. But, I’d absolutely love to go on a mission trip where I can share my faith with others because I love kids and of course, traveling! I am in LOVE with Tennessee, rainforests, and beaches so I’d definitely love to head there for a trip. In my free time, I watch rom-coms and family shows with my brothers while eating endless bags of spicy chips. My favorite rom com is “10 Things I Hate About You” and my favorite family show is “Fuller House.” Speaking of family, playing volleyball with my cousins is my way of ending a perfect summer grill-out night. Nevertheless, I’m happiest with my girls. We support and help one another out while still living out our teenage girl lives! We love listening to Taylor Swift together! But even though I love being surrounded by people, I’m a complete germaphobe and clean freak. I hate bacteria, dirt, or just the risk of getting sick. So to sum it up, I love bright, unique energy and hope I can bring some to you through our feature stories!

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