Students getting ‘foreign experience’ at Niles High

Published 1:26 am Monday, September 13, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Eight students at Niles High School are getting a completely foreign experience this school year.
That's because they are foreign exchange students, coming from all over the world to Niles to see how American students live and learn.
While coming to a foreign country and culture can be a huge adjustment, these students are not alone in trying to get over the culture shock.
Ron Poole, a behavior specialist and social worker at Niles High School, does his best to help the students in their adjustment.
So far, so good, according to some of the students.
Rayanne, who is from Brazil, said that the most unique thing about school here is switching classes. In Brazil, students stay in the same class room and teachers rotate through them.
Rayanne also said that she has to wear a uniform in Brazil, while here she can wear whatever clothes she wants, so long as they conform to the school dress code.
Javier Romeno, 17, of Mexico, also likes the fact that he can wear clothes that he likes to school. Like Rayanne, Javier has to wear a school uniform at his school in Mexico.
Half a world away in Germany, Indra Goering, 16, gets to wear her own clothes to school, but unlike Niles, there is no dress code to dictate what she can and can't wear.
Typically, one of the benefits of studying in a foreign country is that a student can work towards their educational requirements while being immersed in a foreign culture.
While Javier and Rayanne's classes here count towards their educational requirements in their home countries, Indra is taking classes just for the experience.
Indra is in between schools in Germany, so she is taking this time to experience a foreign culture first hand.
In Germany, students have many different options after elementary school, Indra said.
Realschule, which services children 10 to 16 years-old is the closest German equivalent to middle school. Indra recently graduated from realschule.
Students can also go to Gymnasium after elementary school. Gymnasium services children 10 to 20 and can be viewed as a junior/senior high school. Students who graduate from realschule can apply to go gymnasium.
The biggest adjustment all three have had to make is giving up some of their personal freedoms.
Here, all three students said that they have to ask permission whenever they want to go out, and a lot of public excursions are with their host family.
As the students become more acclimated to their surroundings, Poole helps them get into extra-curricular activities and clubs.
Javier plays on the junior varsity soccer team as a mid-fielder. Although they haven't given it much thought, Indra and Rayanne would like to get involved in school clubs eventually. Although it can be lonely for foreign students, contact with their families in the early months is looked down upon.
So far, it doesn't look like anyone is having any difficulty adjusting to their new surroundings, Poole said.