Seneca Valley’s Foreign Exchange Student Process

Krist Muñoz-Malavé, Staff Writer

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The Seneca Valley Senior High School has three, out of the five a year allowed, foreign exchange students (two from Japan and one from Chile). The Seneca Scout took a step towards understanding the technicalities of the Foreign Exchange process.

The foreign exchange student policy set out by Seneca Valley states that the purpose for their arrival is “In order to promote cultural awareness and understanding and to provide diverse experiences to district students, the Board shall admit foreign exchange students into district schools.”

But before that purpose can be put into action, there is a process students must undergo to reach the school. The Seneca Scout talked to one of the Senior High School’s guidance counselors, Mr. Keith Chrestay, to find out how the school goes about this procedure.

“Mainly what is happening is they’re coming in like any other new student who is transferring into the district, usually they’ll have their host family with them, so we go through the process on a very similar way of a student from another state or another city into our district,” Chrestay began. He then moved on to what the foreign exchange students are first introduced to. “After we make the initial enrollment and make sure they get the classes that they’re supposed to have, then we will take them on a tour of the building and walk around the school. If there are teachers we can introduce them to, then we’ll meet up with those teachers and introduce them.”

Just like any high school student, foreign exchange students are looking to find a group to fit in with. Mr. Chestay went on to mention that this is something the school makes sure happens, “If they have interests in sports we make sure to get them to the Activities Office and talk to the athletic secretaries to get all the information they’ll need for drug testing and all the other things that any new student would have to know.”

Seneca Valley takes students from all over the world. Naturally, there are times when communication can be difficult. Mr. Chrestay addressed difficulties in the classroom for the foreign exchange students, “The understanding is all these students are going to be able to function and compete just like the rest [of the student body]. With some, there’s a language issue and it’s difficult, but they don’t qualify for English As Secondary Language services, so they need to work a lot to understand.  They’re at different levels and teachers will work with them to try and help them through [it].”

As the Seneca Scout’s interview with Mr. Chrestay came to a conclusion he left a message to Seneca Valley’s student body regarding their responsibility towards making these foreign exchange students feel great to be here. “I think one of the biggest things is that it’s hard for a school this size to know how to support these students and whenever your readers [the readers of The Seneca Scout] run into them or have classes with these students any way they can embrace these students and make them feel welcomed I think that’s just crucial.”

(Photo from the Seneca Valley Senior High School Website)

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