EXCHANGE STUDENT REALITY by exchange student Sara Rosetti
I’m Sara, an Italian student who will stay in the U.S for 10 months. I could write for a long time about why I choose to be an exchange student and why I think it’s a beautiful experience, but, ever since I found out who my host family was, I’ve wondered why an american family would host a complete stranger in their house for a whole year. This question came with me up to here. In these days I had the chance to ask some questions to two host families and now I know why hosting an exchange student is as cool as being one.
The first thing they said to explain why they have chosen to host is to learn about a new culture and to make a new experience. Secondly, hosting can teach a lot of things and it gives the possibility to share american culture and what’s most important for the family.
A host family can learn about a different culture, a different way of living; it can discover new music, new food and new places to visit. Also, having someone who sees America from another point of view helps in being more open-minded, being critic and not take for granted everything. It can teach how to grow as a person.
On the other hand, the exchange student will learn from the family american tradition, holidays and patriotism. He will live as an american and it’s up to the family to make this experience as real as possible.
Hosting is also a challenge: the family will have a complete stranger from a foreign country living with them. According to the people interviewed, that’s the most difficult thing, but they get used to it pretty quickly. After a week the student will be already part of the family and the embarrassing days will be over.
The language could be a problem, at least in the first months. If the student isn’t very good in English, communication might be difficult. The effort will be worth it when the student will begin to make progress and speak better.
Both the family I interviewed have had previous experience with other exchange students and they’re still in touch with them. Now, they can say they have a friend from the other side of the ocean. Cool, isn’t it?
Also, they both said that after this year they will host another student, maybe not right after, but it’s definitely something they would like to experience again.
“If my kids would want to do an exchange year, I would want a host family happy to host and open its house for them. That’s why I’m hosting”
The year with the exchange student is full of beautiful moments such as picking him up at the airport, cooking french crȇpes, visiting places (new for him and familiar for the family), making homemade pizza and much more. Seeing the student’s excitement about every new thing is fulfilling.
Becoming a host family wasn’t difficult, they just had to talk to the local coordinator, the person in charge of finding the host families. They had to write a presentation and then she gave them 10 application of exchange students and they had to choose the one that they thought would fit more in their family.
They would recommend it to everyone. All types of family can host. Big families with 7 kids, families with kids at college, single parents, people without kids, grandparents. Everyone that wants to open his heart to a foreign person can do it and should do it.
“I think it’s a really good program and it helps the american family as well as the exchange student, it teaches our kids about different cultures. It is very rewarding”
Meredith Tackles New Challenge
High school teacher Mrs. Kelly Meredith has taken the challenge of teaching literally two different languages. This is not her first time teaching English she taught both English I and II the year she was hired here at Heavener High, which was 19-20 years ago. She taught Eng. II, Spanish I, and Show Choir for another year after that. Then, after Mr. Micah Hall (who taught Spanish II half-day and was the technology director for the other half) left HPS and moved back to the Dominican Republic with his wife's family, she was given the choice to teach either Spanish full-time or English full-time. She chose Spanish and began to teach distant-learning classes to other area schools using Heavener's Tandberg system. Those schools included Bokoshe, Whitesboro, Cameron, Arkoma, and Keota.
When asked if she liked Spanish or English classes better she said “I like them both, but I enjoy Spanish more because it is a bit less serious and stressful than English classes are. I think that is mainly because I am super slow and meticulous when grading research papers and essays. I also love being able to prepare food and art projects for cultural celebrations and holidays from the 23 Spanish-speaking countries' cultures around the world. Also, I love being able to incorporate music into Spanish class, which has been a huge part of my entire life.”
She says it often becomes confusing between classes and finds herself switching from one language to the other because she forgets which language class she is in.
“I graduated with a Liberal Arts Bachelor's Degree with an emphasis on Music, Psychology, Literature, and Writing. After deciding to become alternatively certified to teach English and Music, and passing the tests to do so, I thought, Hmmm...while I am taking subject-area tests, I might as well try taking the Spanish one, too. I had a feeling I could pass it since I LOVED taking Spanish so much in high school with Mrs. Janice Muse and for 3 more semesters in college with an amazing teacher at Westark Community College (now UAFS). Learning the Spanish language was very easy for me, so I knew that I wanted to continue to use what I had learned--either in teaching, on Mission trips, etc. When asked if she would teach English again next year she said “Yes, I would if no other English teacher is hired. I imagine that the many after-school hours I am putting in this year will help make future years significantly easier than this one. English is not taught at all like it was when I first came to Heavener. We spent an entire semester on grammar and writing, only, and the other one on literature, only.” She says that she loves both grammar and literature, but doesn't enjoy the research paper writing process, at all. She would much rather read, critique, and edit others' writings and poetry, etc. rather than write my own. “Rather than a creator, I am an editor, at heart.”
With softball season in full swing, the Lady Wolves are all geared up and ready to win this season, freshman Kinley Brand is new to the team and when asked how her first year of high school softball is going she responds, “My first year of high school softball is going great! All of the girls are so supportive and I love playing on the team.” Kinley believes this season they’re going to surprise many people, they have been playing really well so far which gives them hope for a successful season. “We are on fire!” she adds.
Senior Kylee Free was out half a year due to injury which makes her last year playing high school softball “more important,” Kylee says “my expectations for this year are high, I have full faith we will exceed most expectations. We have worked very hard and the seasons are looking great.”
Coach West has high hopes for his Cross-Country team for this upcoming season. His plans for this year's season is to decrease his runners time and take his men and women’s team to state. Coach West knows what it takes to get his runners where they need to be to succeed as he has coached 11 years at Heavener. He quotes, “ I feel like we have a long way to go, but as the season goes, we will maintain the same success we have done for the past few years.”
Cactus Shipman, a cross country runner who has been running for 3 years, quoted this when I asked what his plans were for the season, “I want to be the best that I can be and improve while beating my personal records.” He knows that it takes time to improve and has no problem putting in the hard work it takes to make it to state. In his 3-year running career, Cactus has made it state 2 of the 3 years he has competed. His advice to the new cross-country runners is, “Listen to Coach West”
LIz Chitwood is on the ladies’ side of the cross-country team. She has been running for 2 years and has accomplished going to state once and hopes to make it again this year. Her plans for the upcoming season are to improve and get to where she needs to be. She is not afraid of putting in the hard work and dedication it takes to beat her own personal records. Her advice to the new cross-country runners is, “ Stay hydrated, listen to Coach West, and when you practice actually run because you will regret it if you don’t. Don’t do anything halfway and it’s always good to show off.” She is optimistic about the cross-country team and claims, “We can do it, we are going to make it!”
Coach West has coached many athletes in his years at Heavener High School. He wants to see his runners succeed and meet their goals, especially in their senior year. Seniors can get scholarships by running this sport. Coach West is all about wanting to help his seniors further career by going to college and running on a scholarship. One example is a 2019 senior graduate Maliek Lira who signed with Carl Albert State College. Maliek ran all 4 years of high school and accomplished going to state all 4 of those years. He chose to run cross-country simply because all his friends were doing it at the time. When I asked Maliek what he does to train for cross-country during the season, he said,” Just run during practice, run extra miles after practice, drink milk, and eat cookies.” Maliek is an example of what can come of working hard and running this sport. His advice to the cross-country team now is, “ Stay in shape, practice, and keep your pace. Stay committed and remember to drink lots of water. Real athletes stretch five times a day. Don’t eat too much McDonald’s after every run. Most of all, believe in yourself and your teammates and push them to do better.”