Back to School: 2016
Knights without borders
Every year in the Kings district, new students are welcomed from all over the world.
This year Kings High School has welcomed three such exchange students: Kristian Houdek from Slovakia; Miles Marquordt from Germany, and Emma Sorensen from Denmark.
Sorensen (pictured right), from Denmark, was relieved to find out that what she had been told about schools here weren’t what they were seemed to be.
“I was told that the student/teacher relationship was very strict but all the teachers are very kind and nice so I’m glad they were wrong.”
For about nine years, KHS Counselor Heidi Murray is in charge of making the exchange students feel welcome.
“I help them with class placement, help them with homesickness,” Murray said. “Basically, I support them as I would any of my other students, but know that their situations and ways of approaching things are quite different.”
As if changing schools wasn’t scary enough for any student at new school, the first day for Sorensen was very frightening. She found herself in a totally strange environment.
“On my first day here I was extremely nervous,” she said. “But everyone was so kind and welcoming so it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.”
Sorensen added that there are many differences between teenagers from America and Denmark.
“From what I’ve experienced so far, teenagers in Denmark have a lot more freedom. We don’t have city curfews and a lot of teens don’t have a curfew in general.”
Sorensen said school in Denmark is also totally different than the U.S.
“We don’t have high school and college but something different that continues into university. Also we don’t go from classroom to classroom. We stay in the same classroom the entire year – it’s the teachers who move around.”
She said she had the same classmates for 10 years.
“When we first start in primary school we get separated into classes with 23 other people. We stay with those 23 people in the same classrooms for 10 years. We also don’t have as many different subjects. We don’t have Algebra, Geometry etc … we just have ‘math,’ which just kind of covers it all and the same goes for the other subjects.”
When foreign exchange students come to America they are typically here for six months a to a year, Murray said.
“We give them the courses that they need to stay current in their home country or that really interest them.”
While managing classes Sorensen is even getting involved with many things outside school while here.
“I used to dance a lot – for 13 years to be exact but I wanna try something different so I’m really considering swimming. I’m also considering joining the fall play / spring musical since we didn’t have anything like that at my school in Denmark.”
Foreign exchange students typically stay with what is called a “host family”.
“Host families are typically families just interested in having an exchange student, not necessarily anyone they know,” Sorensen said. “I didn’t pick Ohio and Kings. The program that I’m traveling with picked my host family, and school but I’m really glad I got to go to kings, It has been really good, as I said everyone has been really kind and welcoming.”
By Emilee Charneski