By Ezzaddin Altareb
Included among Alameda High’s many students are also exchange students who came here to study in the US. There are 18 exchange students this year, according to counselor Janice Loy.
The number of exchange students is about the same every year. This number is fairly low due to the difficulty in facilitating such a program.
Khang Dang, a sophomore, is one such exchange student from Vietnam. He thinks the program is beneficial.“ It’s good for a student to experience,” said Dang.
Although the culture here is much different from his home country, Dang’s friends and host family help him adapt to the new environment he is in. Dang says he has grown to like the culture in Alameda. He enjoys the food in the US. In particular, he likes the many Mexican restaurants in the Alameda area.
Dang still keeps in touch with his family. Every once in a while they send gifts to him to support him while he is gone. In the meantime, he has a host family that helps him with his work
Dang says Alameda High School is very different from any school he attended. “School here is much harder,” he said.
Getting into the exchange student program while in Vietnam was not easy. After many rigorous tests and interviews, Dang was accepted and made the trip here.
Wenbo Hu, another exchange student this year, is a senior from China.
Hu, who was not proficient in English before he moved here, said he struggles with communication. He carries a digital dictionary around with him to help with everyday communication.
Although his struggles in language hinder his communication, Hu has not found it very difficult to have friends and socialize with his peers. He attributes this to his peers being more open and being able to communicate what they feel, in contrast to the strict and constrained way people socialized in his home country.
“You got to change your thinking,” he said in regard to the differences in culture. Chinese culture, he said, is more formal and people lack the ability to express themselves, while his American counterparts express themselves freely.
Hu also enjoys the education here. “[American schools] let you think into a question,” Hu says. In his eyes the Chinese school system just wants students with better grades and they rush their education, rather than allowing the students to really understand the subject they are studying and critically analyze it.
Hu lives with host parents who do not have any other children in their home. Occasionally his host family invites him to family gatherings which he appreciates. He keeps in touch with his family in China primarily through phone calls.
Hu intends to graduate from Alameda High and attend an American college. He highly recommends the program to other people for the improved educational expenses. ”You can learn more in America,” he said.