CHS–the place where cultures come together


This year eight exchange students are visiting CHS, which accepts more students than any high school in the state. According to exchange students’ counselor David Mikesell, Carmel has participated in the foreign exchange program for 25 years, involving more than 20 different countries. And this school year is the first time two exchange students came from CHS’s sister school in Saikyo, Japan.

“Exchange students add another element to the class; they aren’t only learning by themselves, they also share their culture with our students. That’s good for everybody. Teachers and students love them.” Mikesell said.

By CHS exchange policy, all foreign students must be seniors for participation. This means that they will graduate with other high school seniors, and some of them will write SAT and college entrance exams.

One of the students stayed with CHS’s senior Teresa Strong.

“I love living in the US: lots of trees, little houses, fresh air. I always lived in a big city with many people, traffic and dust, so this little cute city just makes me happy,” Alesya Mahmudova, an exchange student from Azerbaijan, said. “The host-family is great, they treat me like their real family member.”

However the life of an exchange student isn’t fair.

“Being an exchange student, you face different challenges such as language problems, adaptation, finding new friends. One of the biggest challenges is you aren’t able to go out of the house,” Mikesell said.

“I knew that it will be very hard, that I will have some problems in the US without my family to help me. But when I think of it, I tell myself – “Oh, stop it right now. Isn’t it what you dreamed about your whole life? It is. So you have to solve all of these problems and not to worry of something,” Mahmudova said.

CHS students have also participated in international exchange. There are such programs as Rotary Club and Japanese Exchange open for them. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of students interested in it. According to the exchange students’ counselor, it’s about three students every year. But sometimes foreign exchange students in Carmel inspire CHS’s students to try this experience.

There is a Exchange Students club open for students. If you are interested in becoming an exchange student, ask your counselor about your possibilities.