Getting acclimated to Evergreen has had its ups and downs for Evergreen High School’s foreign exchange students.
The eight, all but one hailing from Europe, have found their classmates and teachers to be more open and welcoming than their counterparts in their home countries. Yet it’s been a difficult adjustment for some to be away from friends, family and the familiar.
Six of them had lunch recently and talked about their experiences in Evergreen.
“It’s a lot different here,” said Clemens Burkhard, 16, from Berlin, Germany. “You can talk to your teachers outside of class. The teachers here are nicer than German teachers. German teachers are serious and don’t make jokes.”
“People here are a lot more open,” said senior Fabienne Sarbach from Switzerland. “In Switzerland, they are more reserved.”
Clemens added that his school in Berlin had many groups; in Evergreen, there are different groups, but students are still united and talk to each other.
In Italy, said senior Francesco Bergamo, school is only a part of students’ lives, while here, it is a bigger part. In Italy, sports, for example, are done through clubs rather than school.
Homework and grades are different too, they said. In their home countries, grades are based more on tests, while here there’s more homework and projects.
The students decided to study in another country for a variety of reasons: boredom, and a push from parents and other family members who had studied in the United States.
They said it took a lot of courage to make the leap to another country, and it helps to have an independent spirit. They also said they have needed to be open-minded and willing to try the new things that a different culture offers.
EHS guidance counselor Paul Oser listened to the students discuss their impressions of Evergreen, and he was impressed with how much more outgoing they had become after their three months here. He also said their English had improved. All had taken English in their schools at home.
Oser said foreign exchange students provide great learning experiences for the students who come to Evergreen and for the EHS students who interact with students from other cultures.
He said EHS’s mission is to help students get experiences that advance the global community.
“Having them here opens our students’ eyes to other cultures in the world,” Oser said. “Our students learn firsthand that our world is larger than just Evergreen or Colorado.”
This year’s foreign exchange students:
Francesco Bergamo, senior, Italy
Clemens Burkhard, junior, Germany
Tana Chemeli, junior, Kenya
Amber Dammers, senior, Netherlands
Ola Folkvord, junior, Norway
Franziskus Linsman, junior, Germany
Fabienne Sarbach, senior, Switzerland
Lynn Zeische, sophomore, Germany