The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

Hunter Hippel

Exchange program benefits students, families

Jiawen Ding is one of thousands of exchange students living in the United States during the 2017-2018 school year. For her, this is a dream that she’s had since she was a child.

“It was my dream as a little girl to come to America,” exchange student Jiawen Ding said.

Many exchange students choose to be in the program because they want to explore a different country. In many cases, it is their first time being in that country. Not only are they improving their language, but they are learning about cultures with people their own age. They are being offered an opportunity to learn about and experience life in America as a teenager that can not be equal to a book or a video across the world.

It was my dream as a little girl to come to America.”

— Jiawen Ding

“It would be a fun experience to get to know another culture while they’re getting to know our culture. It’s also a great way to make friends from all around the world!” said senior Peyton Sitz, who is a former host sister and is now going to be an exchange student herself.

Exchange students from all around the world are connecting families, cultures and countries.  We have exchange students from all corners of the world this year. Exchange students and American students benefit from this. It gives exchange students a chance to find out what American students do in their free time as well as their study time. It also gives American students a chance to get to know the exchange students that attend their school. It gives both exchange students and American students a chance to reflect and notice differences that the countries share and appreciate those differences.

“In China, we just speak English in English class. Being here is important because I can learn to speak fluently and learn new cultures,” said Ding.

Being an exchange student is important to many because it may give them opportunities that they weren’t able to have before. For Jiawen, she wasn’t able to practice her English outside of the classroom. Now she’s able to learn the language and speak it everyday, fulfilling her dream. She stated that one of her wishes before coming to America was to be able interact with the students and other people in the community. Being in America has opened her up to the language and it has enabled her to learn about new cultural differences.

“I think it’s so important, right now especially, to build community around the world. That way we have friendly relationships built,” said Sitz.

Although it may not prevent it, global conflicts no matter the size are less likely to happen if we have friendly relationships built. Exchange students could potentially be a very positive part of our future in global relations. They could bridge cultural gaps and encourage positive trade relations with other countries as well as strengthen our economy.

“We are allowing them a safe place to come and learn first hand about suburban American life. We are allowing them to have a hospitable, immersed experience just by giving them a safe place to stay,” said Sitz.

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