The student exchange program, ASSE, was originally formed as American Scandinavia Student Exchange. Sultana High School currently has three foreign students attending classes as part of the high school exchange program.
Amalie Moe from Norway, Anna Giacomo from France, and Lucie Sevcikova from the Czech Republic got to select which country they wanted to go to when they filled out their applications. They each selected America, with no idea whether they would wind up in Brooklyn, Chicago, Tampa or Hesperia. They are each starting their second and final semester at Sultana High School.
"It was very different because we have no desert in France," Giacomo said.
It was the same for each of the girls who, despite having done some research about the area, were still surprised by the desert landscape.
Giacomo's host, Barbara Walton, is also an area representative for the exchange program. Walton said that when families sign up to host an exchange student, they review their profiles and select the student they wish to host, so the students truly don't know where they might live for the 10 months of their study abroad program.
"It's been a wonderful experience," Walton said, "especially now that our kids are gone." Walton's daughter, Kerri, is hosting Moe and Sevcikova. Walton and her daughter love horses and the fact that all three girls rode horses was something they all had in common.
"My job as an area rep is to help find families to take students for the school year," Walton said. "We do home visits and keep in touch with the students."
"I like the school and there are good teachers," Sevcikova said. "The first day I was so lost and I was looking at the map all the time."
Each of the students said Sultana is big compared to their respective home schools and that the layout of going between buildings is also a new experience for them.
"We don't have all the sports at our school," Giacomo said. "and all the things in the auditorium like the holiday and the talent shows. We just have school from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m."
Aside from longer school days, the students each said that exams are very different in their schools where there are no multiple choice tests. Students are required to write long essays in answer to questions to express their knowledge of the subject.
"Also the public transportation is really good at home," Moe said. "We have subways, trams, busses and trains. I could go basically anywhere I wanted without depending on someone to pick me up."
While the girls all said they appreciated the mountains and loved the horseback riding, being away from public transportation and the dependence on cars limited their mobility.
Walton said the girls were impressed by the outward display of patriotism on homes and businesses as Americans display the flag. Despite the love of country at home, this public display of the flag was a new experience for them.
For more information on how to become a host family to foreign students, log on to www.host.asse.com.