MARQUETTE - From Germany to Greece to Argentina to Mexico, students come from all over the world to attend school here in Marquette County.
Attending school in a foreign land seems to be as popular as it has ever been - perhaps even more popular. The number of foreign exchange students in area school districts this academic year ranges from five to 18 students per district.
NICE Community School District has five students, one each from Thailand, Brazil and Colombia, and two from Germany. According to Larry Boburka, Westwood High School counselor, the district's foreign student enrollment has ranged from a recent low of two exchange students to as high as 10 students.
Alex Zamora, an exchange student from Mexico attending Marquette Senior High School, left, rehearses for the recent Lake Superior Youth Theatre production of 'The Little Mermaid Jr.' He played the role of King Triton. (Journal file photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"The last few years the number of foreign exchange students has been going up in the area," Boburka said. "They bring an international diversity to the school, which has been great."
The foreign exchange students participate in the New Kids group that gathers once a week to discuss how their transition to a new is going and to participate in "get to know me" session, Boburka said.
"These exchange students can teach others about diversity and their cultural," Boburka said. "And any multi-cultural learning that these kids get is just great."
Not only do these exchange students teach other students about their cultures, they also participate at school in other ways, said Negaunee High School Principal Mark Marana. Negaunee has approved 14 exchange students for a full year and four others for half the year, totalling 18 students for the entire academic year. In the 2011-2012 school year Negaunee hosted 10 foreign exchange students.
"Not only have the foreign exchange students gotten involved academically but they've gotten involved with sports and other extra curricular activities," Marana said.
According to Marana, when someone from a different culture comes into the school it adds to the education of the other students there.
"Sometimes teachers will have the foreign exchange students do presentations about their culture and where they come as part of a project for the class," Marana said. "It's been a neat experience for everyone involved for the most part and a real positive one as well."
Negaunee usually likes to keep the number of exchange students at around 10, but this year the Board of Education accepted quite a few more than usual, Marana said.
"I think it speaks well of our school that so many students are placed at our school," Marana said. "It shows our high standard for education, teachers and students."
Foreign exchange students work with a number of groups and agencies to help place them in schools around the Upper Peninsula. The student's sponsoring agency will then come to the board with a list of names that need to be approved before the students are accepted by the district.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org