Foreign exchange students from five different counties are attending Clintonville High School this school year.
The students are from Bolivia, Chile, Germany, Japan, and Norway.
Lance Bagstad, principal of Clintonville High School, said the district has developed a relationship with coordinators of different groups who support foreign exchange students.
“Rotary has always had a student but we’ve had more and more families who have been interested in hosting, so they’ve started to hook up with other organizations,” Bagstad said. “We’ve tried to bring in quite a few just because it’s a great cultural experience for our kids.”
In the nine years Bagstad has been principal, three foreign exchange students is the most the school has had in one year.
“The foreign exchange students seem to fit in so well with our kids and they really get a feel for what it’s like to be in a foreign country without going to that country because they learn about the culture, the language, and how schooling is different there than it is here.”
Bagstad said anyone who is interested in hosting a foreign exchange student should contact him at the high school and he will provide them with the information they need.
Here are the foreign exchange students at CHS.
Catalina Cartes comes to Clintonville High School from Chile. Her answer is simple as to why she wanted to become a foreign exchange student.
“I want to learn the culture here, the language, and have fun,” she said.
Cartes readily admits that she doesn’t know much about the United States but so far she is enjoying her experience as a foreign exchange student.
The city of Clintonville is different than her hometown in Chile. First of all, she said her hometown is bigger than Clintonville. Secondly, she said her hometown is in a desert.
Now, a few weeks into the school year, Cartes said she is meeting more people and making new friends. She admitted the first week was challenging because her English isn’t the best and she was having a hard time understanding things. She said that is better now.
She added that people in America are “funny and tolerant.”
In the spring, Cartes plans to play soccer. She said that she loves sports and attends the Clintonville football games.
As for the rest of the year, Cartes said she wants to have fun and enjoy the experience.
“I want to learn more English and I love to travel,” she said.
She said she doesn’t like cold weather, but she is looking forward to a Wisconsin winter — just to experience it.
Cartes said she regularly communicates with her family in Chile, and she hasn’t become homesick. She has one sister and a half sister in Chile.
Mark & Dawn Shepard are her host parents.
Miki Kuroda comes to Clintonville High School from Japan. She said she has studied English for more than 10 years and wants to continue to improve her English.
“I wanted to make friends all over the World since I was little so I wanted to make that dream come true,” Kuroda said about why she became a foreign exchange student.
She added that she also wants to share the Japanese culture with others, while at the same time learning about the American culture.
When she found out see was being placed in Clintonville she said she did some research and found that Clintonville was a small city. Kuroda comes from one of the largest cities in Japan.
Kuroda said she looks forward to living in a small city because it will be easier to make friends.
Her research also educated her about how cold Clintonville can get in the winter. She said she doesn’t like the cold, and thinks the late September days are cold. She said she’s been warned that it will get colder.
Attending Clintonville High School is presenting Kuroda with a new experience because in Japan she attended an all girl school.
“We have boys here and that was a big difference,” Kuroda said.
Being able to choose the classes she wants to take was also a change.
“That was really big for me because we have a certain curriculum in Japan and we have to do that and we can’t do what we want,” she said.
Some of the classes Kuroda is taking in Clintonville include Spanish, choir, and a class about working with young children.
“We never have those kind of classes in Japan so I wanted to experience that,” she said.
She said she is enjoying choir a lot. In Japan, choir is considered an extracurricular activity done after school.
Finding all her classrooms in the school was a concern at first. She said at her school in Japan the students stay in the same classroom for most of their classes, while the teachers will move from classroom to classroom.
“At first I was worried but I got used to it so I don’t get lost anymore,” she said.
For extracurricular activities, Kuroda is involved with the school musical scheduled for this fall. She is also playing tennis.
Her host family in Clintonville is larger than her family in Japan. In Japan she has a younger brother. Now she has one sister and three brothers in her host family.
Since arriving in Clintonville, Kuroda said she has gone to Michigan with her host family. She also attended the Parish Palooza at St. Rose Parish a few weeks ago.
“I liked to work the [food] stand. I was making hamburgers and stuff. That was fun, but everything was fun. We have festivals in Japan but it was different,” she said.
She said she was surprised by the shopping experience in America. She bought a fancy dress, something she wouldn’t do in Japan.
“We’re shy and kind of strict in Japan so we won’t wear fancy dresses, so I was glad to buy my dress for homecoming,” she said.
She said she emails back and forth with her family in Japan. She admitted she hasn’t missed them too much because she is focusing on her life as an exchange student.
Lincoln and Jennifer Wood are her host parents.
Looking to learn about a new culture, Eduardo Roca comes to Clintonville High School from Bolivia.
When he found out he was coming to Clintonville, he immediately turned to the Internet for more information.
“The first thing I did was Google [Clintonville],” he said. “I was really surprised because I come from a really big city, three million people.”
When he arrived in Clintonville on Aug. 21 he said he found that the city was smaller than he expected.
Despite it being smaller, Roca said the people in Clintonville were “really warm and open.”
“It was a big change for me. I’m getting used to it,” said Roca about living in a small city.
He said Clintonville High School is also smaller than the school he attended in Bolivia.
“The thing I like the most is I can choose the subjects I want to take. That’s cool. It’s not like my school in Bolivia where they give me subjects I have to take,” Roca said.
He added that some of the subjects that are classes in Clintonville would be considered extracurricular activities in Bolivia.
Roca’s favorite class is team sports and strength training. That’s a class not offered at his school in Bolivia. He is also taking chemistry, physics and pre-calculus. He is also playing soccer at school.
Prior to coming to Clintonville, Roca said he had never seen a game of American football. Since arriving, he has attended a college football game, and high school football games.
Other activities he has done since arriving include kayaking and tubing at a lake.
He said he has never seen snow before, and he is looking forward to that experience. He said the current weather is similar to what winter is like in Bolivia.
He has an identical twin brother back home, as well as a younger sister. He communicates with his family via Skype, but admits he misses them.
“It’s a little tough being by myself,” he said.
Roca added that everyone at school has treated him well.
Ted and Tracy Druckery are his host parents.
Lara Veit comes to Clintonville High School from Germany. She said she wanted to become an exchange student in America because she loves America.
“I like the people because they are open and it’s a nice country,” Veit said.
Having never heard of Clintonville, when she researched it, she found that it is a small city, and it will be cold in the winter.
She said she comes from a large city in Germany, and Clintonville is different from that city.
“It’s different because it’s not as loud sometimes,” Veit said. “The people know each other more than they do in a big city.”
The school in Clintonville is also different from the school she attended in Germany. She said the school year is longer in Germany. Also in Germany, students don’t get to choose the subjects they want to study.
Photography, graphics, and choir are some of the things she is learning about in school, which wouldn’t have been possible in Germany. Choir is an afterschool activity in Germany.
“I like to take photos and I’m interested in graphics,” she said.
Going to a smaller school is fine with Veit as she said it is easier to meet people and make new friends.
Veit is playing volleyball in Clintonville, something she has never done before. She said it is fun.
Upon arriving in Clintonville, her host family held a welcome party for her. She has also toured Lambeau Field. She said she’ll probably be a Green Bay Packers fan when she returns to Germany.
Despite not liking cold weather, experiencing the cold Wisconsin winter is something Veit wants to do.
Her host family is larger than her family in Germany. In Germany she has a brother. With her host family, she has a brother and a sister.
“It’s interesting because now I’m the big sister and it’s kind of cool,” Veit said.
Veit said she has Skyped with her family back home, but staying active keeps her mind off of being away from her family.
“I’m so busy here I can’t really think about that,” she said. “I do miss them but not that much.”
Shannon and Cheryl Seelig are her host parents.
Celina Vieira comes to Clintonville High School from Norway.
The fact that Vieira’s sister was a foreign exchange student helped convince her that she should become one also.
“I wanted to experience new things and learn about the American culture,” Vieira said.
As with the other foreign exchange students, Vieira said she comes from a much larger city than what Clintonville is.
When she arrived in Clintonville she was surprised by how cold it was. She said it can get cold in Norway but it is warmer for a longer period of time.
She said she immediately noticed all the farms in the area.
“We don’t have that because I live in a big city,” she said.
Vieira said she blends in with other students at Clintonville High School.
“The school is pretty big here so not many people notice I’m from Norway,” she said.
The physical size of the school building is bigger than her school in Norway.
“I thought I would never figure out which classrooms I had to go to because it’s so big,” Vieira said.
She added that the grading system is different than her school in Norway. In Clintonville she is also taking classes that aren’t available in Norway.
“Some subjects are hard in the beginning but I’m hoping they will get easier,” she said. “There are so many new words I haven’t seen before.”
For an extracurricular activity, Vieira is playing volleyball. Her host sister also plays volleyball.
Since arriving, she has also gone to a water park in Wisconsin Dells and attended a corn roast. She said she had fun at both.
Vieira said American food is definitely different than food in Norway, where a lot of fish is eaten.
“You guys have a lot of junk food and fast food. You won’t see that as much in Norway,” she said.
Communicating with her family in Norway takes place on weekends because that is when she has time.
“It’s tough because my family and I have a close relationship. It’s definitely tough but I see it as a challenge to grow myself and learn new things.”
Darold and Debbie Krueger are her host parents.