Foreign Exchange Student gathering update

Last week, as part of a long weekend, Maple Hill High School was host to the majority of Rotary Foreign Exchange Students spending the current school year in the area. Here are two reports on the event.

From: Wendy Nolan, Castleton Elementary School,
Special Education Teacher

I just wanted to share with everyone what a huge success the Rotary Foreign Student Exchange weekend was and to say thank you to Mark Hoyt for setting it up.

We had students from Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Turkey, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Venezuela, Romania, Switzerland and France. I also would like to send a huge thank you to Patti Racz for organizing many opportunities for the students to get together while they were here. These opportunities allowed the students to create some great memories and, hopefully, some lasting friendships.

As I talked with many of the students throughout the weekend, they referenced their visit to the three schools and how much they enjoyed that. It was really exciting to watch the community interacting with the students at the soccer games on Saturday. Saying goodbye on Sunday was difficult, and our students are asking about other weekend opportunities. I hope that this is something that Maple Hill will continue to be a part of.

I would just to say thank you again to everyone involved that made this happen. It was truly a rewarding experience.

From: Mark Hoyt,  Maple Hill High School
Social Studies 7-12
Mandarin Chinese 7-12

Thanks, Wendy, for the kind words. Patty and I had a great time while they were here. It was a busy weekend and the weather was perfect. In fact, so many of the exchange students and their host families here in Schodack have stated they wanted to do it again real soon, Patty and I are trying to organize another weekend for more international exchange students.

Apparently there are a number of other exchange students who did not attend that might make our next one if we extend a formal invitation. We are thinking another weekend that has a dance (Snowball? Spring Fling?) and some other activity or event that might be fun for them to join in (sports? skiing? skating? hiking? camping? international dinner?). Once Patty and I get some community input, we will select a weekend and disseminate the information to all involved.

Perhaps collectively we at Schodack might try to arrange for small informal groups of the students to visit either two or three classes at one time or if the numbers are not too overwhelming, entire classes (such as the fifth grade group we visited in the elementary school) might be a possibility. Patty and I hope to get more families from the community involved in this venture as either volunteers for our fun activities or as host families. We had a great group that stepped forward and opened up their homes for the weekend but more are needed.

When the students left on Sunday, it was a 45-minute crying session for all involved. Very unexpected but interesting to observe such a strong bond being formed after just three days of being together. We have the perfect small-knit community that had a reputation in the past for being welcoming to Rotary Foreign Exchange students from other Capital Region school districts. Patty and I are just a small cog in this much larger communal Rotary wheel. I enjoyed the weekend enormously and will always try to organize this type of international event so long as I am here in the district.

[Go here for the Events Calendar.]



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