By LILIAN MOHR
Throughout the world’s history, people have been getting their education in other towns, other cities, or even other countries. Famous intellectuals, including the likes of Aristotle, even had to travel to receive their education. The idea of not waiting for the chance at the best possible education to just fall in your lap has been passed down through generations.
Nowadays these ideas still carry through into the modern day high school education programs that are happening across the world. Students of any age from hundreds of countries now have easy access to programs that can allow them to travel anywhere to receive a new and exciting education while getting to experience new cultures, miles away from where they normally live. But even though the Foreign Exchange program is not a crazy concept, many students don’t even realize that these amazing programs are happening right now in the middle of their school.
Michael Celano is a language teacher at Redlands East Valley and also a mentor and adviser of sorts for the foreign exchange students that have come to the school for the past fourteen years. Even though he doesn’t truly run a Foreign Exchange Program, he is still a big part of the students’ lives when they come to REV. Here at REV there are currently four foreign exchange students and many more have visited through the years. These students normally stay for one year and get to experience an education in a completely new environment. There have been students from Japan, China, Argentina, Panama, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Australia, Spain and France. There have been so many that Celano has started to lose track. But for the students that are here, he has set up meet and greets, presentations and information meetings to inform REV staff and students of their presence in hopes to inspire interest in the REV student body.
Language and foreign culture has been a major part of Celano’s life since he started taking foreign language classes in high school. Throughout his high school years, he took Spanish, French and German. Then, once he got to college, he continued with his passion for foreign language and took even more classes. When questioned on why he has continued on this path when most students choose to just take language classes in high school, he said that he “found them fun and interesting” and felt inspired to become more educated on foreign cultures. Following his passion, he has traveled across the world to places like Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Peru, France and many more over the years. He even plans to continue his travels in the future with an educational trip to Guatemala in 2020.
Celano is a great source for students interested in foreign studies because he truly has seen and experienced so many different languages and cultures from around the world. He loves coordination with REV’s foreign exchange students because he enjoys “getting to learn about other countries and their cultures through the students.” He hopes that REV students will get to meet these new foreign exchange students at the multicultural assembly or when the foreign exchange students give presentations to the student body this spring. He hopes that these interactions with teenagers, who are the same age and going through the same things in life, will help encourage REV students to become an exchange student to another country at some point during their education or consider studying abroad in college.
After speaking with the foreign exchange students themselves, the true impact that this kind of experience can have on teenagers as they go through high school is quite impressive. Ly Nguyen, one of the four new students here at REV this year, is spending her junior year here in the States all the way from Vietnam. A few weeks into this year-long journey, she already has had an amazing experience with the staff, students and the educational system here in America. Nguyen says she “loves the school so so so much” and since day one “all the friends she has met have been so nice and lovely” to her. Comparing her education back in Vietnam to here at REV, she feels that “US education is not as stressful as back in Vietnam.” She “likes the education here because it’s based on things that can can help plan for her future.” The Foreign Exchange Program allowed Nguyen to experience a different culture and high school experience. Things like football games, Homecoming dances and Taylor Swift music videos are all things that many students take for granted here in the States that are educational and exciting experiences for foreign students.
These programs are happening around the world with students from almost every country imaginable, and there is an amazing community of foreign students that are here at REV right now. People like Celano, teachers, classmates and everyone else here at REV have made an amazing impact on these students’ lives and will continue to change students’ high school experiences for years to come.