5 students, 1 shared goal


Hailey Boger, Reporter

Almost 5000 miles, 13 and a half hours in a plane, and a whole new culture later, junior foreign exchange student Sofia Patrone has had a bit of trouble adjusting to life in the U.S., between speaking English and being away from her home country of Italy.

“In Italy we are six hours behind, so the first days were a little confusing, and I was tired,” Patrone said.

This year five foreign exchange students are attending SHS. Originating from Japan, Germany, Italy and Spain, these students are juniors, but are considered honorary seniors and are included in senior activities, according to assistant principal Amy Boone. The students came from various foreign exchange programs, such as Foreign Links Around the Globe (FLAG), Aspect and Program Academic Exchange (PAX).

Although all of these newly appointed Cards had to deal with leaving their friends and family behind to visit the U.S., they also share many differences in their experiences and personal interests.

Patrone says that everything in the U.S. is bigger compared to back home. She stated that her school in Italy had only 300 students, compared to the over 2000 students attending SHS. However, this is also something Patrone enjoys about the U.S.

Paul Nufer, a junior from Germany, likes that there are more choices in the U.S., especially in stores.

“There’s so many different things you can choose from,” Nufer said. “In grocery stores you have like… 35 different cereals.”

In addition to that, Nufer appreciates the patriotism among Americans, saying Germans don’t quite share that same love for their country.

“We don’t actually have any patriotism in Germany,” Nufer said.

As for the students’ reasonings behind making the journey to the U.S., most of them simply want the experience of learning about another culture, as well as expanding their English language skills.

Junior Sakuya Uehara says that he wants to see the world and do everything that he can’t do in Japan, his home country. Although he struggles with English, he’s hoping to make friends during his stay.

“I want to make a lot of friends, so please talk to me,” Uehara said.

Uehara misses his friends and family from Japan but also gets emails from his mother every week so he can keep in touch.

Paul Flöter, another student from Germany, was inspired to join the foreign exchange program after hearing his brother’s experiences in the program.

“It looked fun; he told me all those funny, crazy  things  he  did,” Flöter said.

As for George Dueñas-Oliver, a junior from Spain, he stated that he came to the U.S. in order to improve his English and to have good experiences in general. Similarly to Nufer, he likes that there are a lot of choices in America, especially in schools.

During their stay in the U.S., the foreign exchange students stay with host families, who provide food, shelter and other essentials for them.

Orchestra teacher Thomas Wright has been hosting foreign exchange students for 14 years. He is currently housing two of this year’s foreign exchange students, Nufer and Dueñas-Oliver. He says that it’s fun to see the kids develop and grow over the course of their stay.

Wright and his family chose to host these students as a way for them to give back to other people and the community.

“I hope that at some point in their future, they give back to other people in the way we’ve given to them and that it creates a habit in them to be generous to other people,” Wright said.

Wright says that he treats the students he hosts as if they are his own children by making them do chores, putting their phones away at dinner and  communicating with him and his wife.

Although the school year has only just started, the students have already had lasting experiences and gotten a taste of American culture. They will only continue to expand upon these experiences as the year progresses.