Rose Le Boudec
With Spanishs, Frenchs, Russians, Koreans, and many other nationalities, Bonneville High School is an international meeting place. With over thirty exchange students, Bonneville is probably the school with the most exchange students in Idaho Falls.
A foreign exchange student chooses to discover a new culture, country, and language. The students decide, on their own, to go to a country that they do not know. Thirty-two exchange students are currently attending Bonneville; for some it is their first year, for others it is their second. Livia Bock is from Germany, and she is entering her second year of school here at Bonneville High School. She said, “[I chose to do an exchange year] because I always wanted to experience this and learn more about America, and improve my English. And [I chose] to come back so I can graduate here.”
Emma Verhofstad, BHS’s only exchange student from the Netherlands, stated “[I chose to do an exchange year] to learn English and to experience a new culture, and because I don’t know what to do after high school.” Hailing from South Korea, Jaekwon Song said “[I chose to do an exchange year] to improve my English, that’s the main goal.” What may seem strange to Americans is that most of the time, when an exchange student chooses to come to the United States, they hope to live the “American Dream” (Football games, Homecoming, Prom, etc.). For Song, his reason was “to learn some culture [and] meet a lot of people all over the world.” Verhofstad said, “I already knew English, so I won’t be able to learn a completely different language, and because America is pretty cool!” These two exchange students have settled in well at Bonneville High School. Song was on the soccer team, and Verhofstad just got back from the State competition in swimming. According to Verhofstad “[I do like my new life here] and I think it will be very outgoing.”
Being a foreign exchange student is not just about living their dream. An exchange student grows up, opens up to the world, and makes countless encounters, but also misses their family, friends, and home. They have to be ready to sacrifice their old life to open up a new chapter.