Constantin Dornoff, a junior at Woods Cross High from Germany, wanted to come to America to gain cultural experiences and improve his English. Having been here nine months, he has gathered those tools as well as many new friends and a love for a new country.
The reason for his new social circle could be that “it is so easy to find friends here,” Dornoff says.
American kids could also be the reason. Demi Petersen and Jodie Warnock, seniors at Woods Cross High, both said they make an effort to introduce themselves and talk to foreign exchange students in their classes.
Petersen said, “it’s fun to get to know them and their background,” and Warnock appreciates the open mindedness of foreign exchange students she has befriended.
Dornoff has been practicing English for 10 years and understands the language very well, though a barrier still exists. Many foreign exchange students are not fortunate enough to have so much practice before coming to America.
Warnock feels any difference in speaking “brings you together more because you try to connect with your eyes and actions.” Petersen says she starts to understand the mixed languages after she gets to know someone well enough.
Accents are not a problem either. Petersen loves to listen to the different ways people from other countries talk, and Dornoff says his accent helps him get dates “somehow.”
Dornoff has also had the opportunity to connect with his host family, whom he loves living with. They have provided more advantages for him to meet friends and feel at home in America.
Warnock and her family had the opportunity to host two foreign exchange students from Japan a few years ago.
“We were so grateful for them. They taught us more than they will ever know,” she says.
Petersen has gotten to know several foreign exchange students throughout her schooling and believes the program provides a great opportunity. She thinks “it would be fun to live and go to school in a completely different culture.”
Warnock also supports the program and believes it is a learning experience for the student, as well as each person privileged to know him.
When local kids and foreign exchange students reach beyond cultural boundaries, all can benefit. One person may mean the world to someone here, but someone here may mean the world to that person as well.