International Education Week kicked off this week and continues through Nov. 17. At Noblesville High School, five international students were welcomed in Noblesville.
Lynn Davis helps coordinate the international students at the high school and is the co-director of counseling at NHS.
Each year, the district partners with host families in Noblesville to welcome them to the city in July before the school year begins. This year, four of the five students are from cities and towns in Germany. One is from Spain.
Ana Garcia de Paredes hails from Ferrol, a city on the Atlantic coast in the northwestern part of Spain. Leah Strauss is from the area of Stuttgart in southern Germany. Sophie Beyer is from Hamburg in northern Germany. Johanna Mollers is from near the city of Ulm in south-central Germany. And Judith Behrens is from Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s northwest coast.
The students, all 16, are members of the junior class and will return to their home nations at the end of the school year in early July.
“We start with enrollment of these kids during the second semester of the year before (they will come),” Davis said. “They come in July to register for classes, which is always fun because generally their schools are very different from ours. They don’t have the number of electives we have, so they get to try a lot of fun things – theater, art classes, etc.”
Across the entire Noblesville Schools district, there are more than 300 club, organization and athletic team opportunities for students.
Each school year, the district hosts anywhere from five to 10 international students.
“Part of why we take international students is because we want to learn from them as much as they learn from us,” Davis said.
Three months into the school year, the girls said they already have, for the most part, adjusted to day-to-day life in America. Earlier this month, Current sat down with Garcia de Paredes, Strauss, Beyer and Mollers to discuss their experience.
What is your favorite thing about being here and going to school here?
Garcia de Paredes: “I like everything because everything is new and so exciting.”
Strauss: “I really like the corn.”
Beyer: “In Germany, I didn’t really like to go to school, but here, you see all your friends. Also, I’m on the dance team, and I really like to spend time with them. When I think about school here, I think more about the people and fun, not class.”
Mollers: “When I arrived here, I was really excited because everything was so different and new. Everything was bigger – the school and the grocery stores – but you get used to it. I can really make friends here.”
What currently is your favorite class at NHS?
Garcia de Paredes: “I like math because in Spain, math is very difficult, but with the teacher here, and it’s a different system, I enjoy math for the first time in my life.”
Strauss: “I love the art classes, choir, theater, stuff like that, because I can’t take that. You can’t choose your classes in Germany, so I really enjoyed doing that here.”
Beyer: “I really like U.S. History. It’s hard, but I like how my teacher is doing it. I’m also in dance class, so that’s fun, and Spanish is also fun.”
Mollers: “I think my favorite class is band because I’ve been playing saxophone for 8 years now. I took my saxophone from Germany, and it’s so much fun to play with the people here, and the music we’re playing is awesome. I also really enjoy photography.”
How do you think this experience will shape what you choose to do in the future?
Garcia de Paredes: “It’s going to be easier to meet new people and (have) relationship with people, because here, you have to go to people and talk with them if you want to make new friends. I think this is going to help me for the future when I go to college.”
Strauss: “You challenge yourself. We also learn a lot about the society here. We usually think it’s so similar, but it’s actually not. It’s quite different. I like that.”
Mollers: “Because of my experience here, I’ve become more independent. I have do deal with my problems myself. Of course, my host family and friends help me, but there’s also a ton of new people. I don’t have my friends and family here, so I have to grow with the experience.”
Will this be considered prestigious when you return home?
Mollers: “It’s always good to learn to speak the language better. When you’re here and forced to talk all the time in English, I think your English improves, and I think a lot of jobs will require it.”
Garcia de Paredes: “English right now is very important for getting jobs, and if you have this experience, that definitely helps.”
What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced since being in America?
Garcia de Paredes: “The first days were so weird because in Spain, we have a big lunch and a small dinner, and here you have a big dinner and small lunch. I remember the first days starving, and with the sleeping hours and all those things, it was hard to adapt.”
Strauss: “I was weirded out by the air conditioning at first. It’s so high. We do have air conditioning, but we use it gently. When you walk into a convenience store here, you have to put on a jacket.”
Beyer: “At fast food restaurants, at first I didn’t understand that you get a cup and have to fill it yourself.”
Mollers: “In the beginning, I was pretty overwhelmed by the school because it’s so big. My school in Germany has 600 students, and this school has 3,000.”
What are your impressions of Noblesville?
Strauss: “Noblesville is a big city for me because I’m from a really small village. I enjoy going downtown to different stores. It feels weird to be so (reliant) on other people, because you can’t just take the bus or train.”
Beyer: “I thought Noblesville wouldn’t be as big and have their own stuff. We are really close to Indianapolis, so I thought you would more go to Indianapolis to get things like groceries.”