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Bienvenido! foreign exchange students!

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Junior+Snegugu+Nsimbi+listens+carefully+in+Government+class.+Nsimbi+is+from+South+Africa.+Photo+by+Gabby+Naucke.
Junior Snegugu Nsimbi listens carefully in Government class. Nsimbi is from South Africa. Photo by Gabby Naucke.

Junior Snegugu Nsimbi listens carefully in Government class. Nsimbi is from South Africa. Photo by Gabby Naucke.

Junior Snegugu Nsimbi listens carefully in Government class. Nsimbi is from South Africa. Photo by Gabby Naucke.

This year Parkway South is lucky enough to have seven foreign exchange students joining our community for ten months. The seven students this year are getting the chance to witness the solar eclipse, Cardinal baseball games, visits to the Arch, and unique St. Louis areas, like the botanical gardens. Each of these students has his or her own story and perspective on South.

One exchange student, Valentina Frau,  traveled all the way from Italy to the Whiteaker’s house, with student Drew Whiteaker, here in St. Louis. Frau is now a junior at South and started learning English since she was a child, but she only started actually speaking English when she arrived in America.

Speaking English all the time isn’t the only drastic difference from Italy, her school differs from South in many ways. In her school in Italy they “only go to school everyday but sunday for five hours, then go home around 1:30pm, so we don’t eat lunch at school.”

Another big difference is at her old school the teachers move rooms, not the kids. Therefore, she is in the same classroom with the same kids all day. Although all of the changes are overwhelming she misses her parents, friends, and brothers Valentina loves St. Louis and is grateful for this experience,

Frau is one of three siblings that are triplets, her triplets are also doing the exchange program right now.

“My brother, Mauro, is living in Mexico for a year and her other brother, Federico, is living in Malaysia for a year,” said Frau.

Snegugu Nsimbi took an incredibly long journey from South Africa to be at South today. After her second year applying for a scholarship to join the exchange program was finally accepted in the program.

Nsimbi lives with the Finan’s along with her new friend from Sweden, Martina. Nsimbi expressed how much she loves South, calling it “beautiful, even though it’s very different than my school in South Africa.”

Nsimbi’s still adjusting to “how cold South is and how there is no praying at the beginning and end of each day, and how the classes are thirty minutes longer than what I’m use to.” Even though she loves America, South, and her host family she misses her younger brothers, who she is very close with, but she’s excited she can show them that they could also go to America if they wished too.

Melvin Ahdrian Ahlbert, a junior at South, came all the way from Sweden to his host family, the Neyberts.

He also is very close with his host family, they “have gone to baseball games together, we cook dinner together, and we have gone to the mall together.”

Ahdrian Ahlbert has been playing on JV soccer at parkway South, he likes his teammates because “they’re welcoming and funny.”  

Ahdrian Ahlbert joined the exchange program to see a new culture and because three of his best friends at home went to Minnesota, Oregon, and North Carolina this year. Ahdrian Ahlbert misses his family, friends, and being familiar with the area around him, but he is easily adjusting.

Steele and Roach popped up the most between exchange students because these teachers help, involve, and have fun with these exchange students. Each year before the first class Steele talks to them about what they struggle with the most and how she can help them. Mrs. Steele is planning on having “each foreign exchange student give a presentation and maybe bring in food from and about their culture.”

Steele would tell any incoming exchange student to “be ready to advocate for themselves because it will help you get farther socially and will help you learn easier.” Mr. Roach introduced himself and got to know about them and their culture before starting class. He plans to have two of his Swedish exchange students teach a traditional P.E. class to his class.

Mr. Roach would tell any incoming exchange students “to not be afraid of the language or cultural barrier, dive into what the High School has to offer, and take a risk.”

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Bienvenido! foreign exchange students!