Keystone Oaks School District News Article

Foreign exchange students speak at KO

Mock Car Crash sponsored by SADD

On April 24th, Foreign Language students had the opportunity to meet exchange students from other countries in the Middle School LGI. Karen Pessolano, the Regional Coordinator for Western Pennsylvania, lead the event. She works with Education First (EF), a company that specializes in providing foreign language training and opportunities, including exchange programs.
Joining Pessolano was Tamara Pavlock, an International Exchange Organizer, who works in our area to find host families for foreign students to live with while on their stay. Pavlock and Pessolano both brought with them four exchange students in the EF program to the event.
These four students were Olle, from Sweden, Synne Reklev, from Norway, Cristina
Novat and Maztima Giuliami, both from Italy. They all are senior students, following EF standards, and have stayed an entire school year in the United States. Throughout the presentation, K.O. students asked many good questions, such as, “What was one of the most surprising things about America when you first came here?”
“You Americans think America is everything; it’s crazy,” responded Giuliami.
And after the mention of the “absurd” amount of flags Americans fly, she also said,”They want to never forget they are in America!”
All of the exchange students could agree that being exposed to other cultures in life has helped them immensely, and said if someone has the opportunity they should go on a foreign exchange trip.
As Novat put it in the presentation, “In Italy, we believe an experience like this can change your life. Language doesn’t even matter; you just think about life and living it.”
Education First is an association that provides students to travel to another country through an exchange program. This involves a family contacting EF with an interest to be involved with the program. Families are only asked to provide a separate room, food, and a good experience for the exchange student. To not strain a family, exchange students are encouraged to have $200 - $300 a month to pay for all expenses they may encounter.
The organization closely follows all rules and regulations of the Department of State. Incoming students travel with a J-1 Visa, an education visa. Many of the exchange students who visited talked about their trips to other parts of America, like Miami, Los Angeles, and Niagara Falls. EF does not require nor provide these trips, the host families make the decision themselves, but all experiences are greatly encouraged nonetheless.
The motto EF tells its exchange students is, “ It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just different.”
The organization strives to give students a unique, loving opportunity to be immersed in another culture, and are currently asking families in the area if they would interesting in hosting a foreign student.

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