Chilean Students Come To Bellbrook Ohio To Experience America

by Morgan Sharbaugh

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Ten Students from Thomas Jefferson High School in Santiago, Chile, have come to stay with us in Bellbrook, Ohio, for two weeks. These students have never been to America. They’ve spent five days in Washington, D.C., visiting the Smithsonian museums and monuments, and are staying with host families until September 20 and experiencing American life.

To celebrate their arrival, a party was held at a Bellbrook junior Lucas Flanagan’s house. Normal party foods such as fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese, and various candies were served. The students and their hosts started to eat, casually talking here and there when Francisca Arriagada, a Chilean student, held up her plate and pointed to the mac ‘n cheese. “What is this?” she asked, “It’s good, no?” All the hosts turned to look at her. The concept of someone having never had mac ‘n cheese was new to them. Along with mac ‘n cheese, Reese’s Cups were a new food.

The Chileans had also never experienced warehouse stores like Walmart or Costco. Felipe Vejar, an exchange student, said Walmart is big, as they do not have stores that size with those many different items in Chile. Vejar also says that, “America is different from home because the people are so busy. I just go home in the evening. I get my stuff done then I sleep.” Most students in America have extracurricular activities that they go to immediately after school, making most students always on the go.

A host says it’s different having these students around. The hosts and their friends are learning a lot about their culture and home. Someone who is hosting a student gets to observe how each time the Chileans meet up during the day, the boys meet with a handshake, and the girls kiss each other in the air near the cheek. The boys also kiss the girls in the air near the cheek and vice versa. In America, people would see that as they’re dating, but in reality, it’s just what Chileans do to greet each other or say good-bye.

Due to cultural differences, this exchange program brings interesting learning opportunities. The Chilean students get to learn what Americans eat and do, and Americans get to learn about our differences. It’s extremely eye-opening to finally see and understand how someone else’s culture is. There’s a big jump between Chile and America but these 10 students have made it.

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