View From High School: Foreign exchange programs teach skills

View From High School: Foreign exchange programs teach skills

For the next two months, four high school students from Beijing, China, will be staying in four Roslyn homes and enrolled in Roslyn High School classes for an extended visit as apart of the ongoing China foreign exchange program. 

Shortly after arriving in Roslyn, the students met their “siblings” in school and were later welcomed by the Board of Education with their host families before heading to their new homes. 

Each student is given their own schedules to fit their interests and grade level to follow daily. They are encouraged to join clubs, get to know their peers and attend school and town wide events. 

They each were also placed with a different family living in Roslyn with students in the district that will strive to make Roslyn feel like their home away from home. 

One exchange student, Yuanhan Cheng, who goes by Emily is currently attending Roslyn High School as a junior and staying with freshman Lauren Christenson and her family. 

Though it is the first time Christenson and her family has hosted a student from Beijing, it isn’t the first time they have welcomed someone from another country into their home.

“We’ve often shared our home with visitors from other countries, so it isn’t new,” she said. “Last year, we hosted a missionary from New Zealand.”

Hosting a foreign exchange student can be beneficial for both the student and family in multiple ways. On both ends it teaches culture, leadership skills and diversity. Exchange programs also help teach a new language and spark new friendships with the student, their host family and peers at school. 

Previously, Christenson’s family has lived in Hong Kong and has studied Mandarin. Her family wants to keep the experiences they have had appreciated and keep the culture in their home.

“My parents thought this experience would be a good to keep the cultural aspects close to us,” she said. 

Despite the fact that leaving home could be a challenge, students that do go also learn about independence, adaptation to new environments and how to step out of one’s comfort zone. 

The exchange program also provides the student with a “second family” while away from home for an extended period of time. The trip may also teach the student about compromising and, in long term, make the student more comfortable in ‘foreign’ environments in the future. 

In many ways, though they can be similar, Cheng believes that Chinese and American schools are also different in their discipline, collaboration between students and teachers and instruction styles. She believes her experience in Roslyn so far is good, but different from Beijing. 

“Teachers are more interactive and patient with the students,” she said.

Cheng is currently 16 and much like 16 year olds; she enjoys volleyball, painting and traveling. 

After graduating, she hopes to return to America for college. 

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