Campus Correspondence: Foreign Frenzy Grips Local High School by Candace Guereque

March 24, 2011
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Representing an international point of view, from left, Henry from China, Ruben from Spain, Clara from China, Chloe' from France and Fe' from Germany.

Representing an international point of view, from left, Henry from China, Ruben from Spain, Clara from China, Chloe' from France and Fe' from Germany.

Bonita High School has welcomed five international students to the senior class of 2011, representing the nations of China, France, Germany and Spain.
The students had the courage to leave their comfort, as well as, time zones and move half way around the world to the suburban melting pot of La Verne, Calif. They arrived in September of 2010 and will stay through their upcoming graduation from Bonita High School in June.

The global band of student adventurers  includes Clara Ying Xie from Huzhou, China and Henry Yifu Hou from Dalian, China; Chloe Gemie from Lille, France; Fe’ Wisnur from Berlin, Germany; and Ruben Garcia-Vallejo Alvarez from Galicia, Spain.

To hear their observations of their temporary new home are fascinating and insightful. Ruben said he  is awed by the sheer size of everything. “Everything is so big, and in large amounts,” he said. “There is a lot of buildings, people, and everything, in general. To a person who is not from here, it is like a movie.”

Henry noticed that Americans, unlike people from China, were more “open-minded. Chloe described Americans as “focused more on what they are doing or what they are planning on doing, rather than being spontaneous.”
America’s food culture has bitten Clara. She’s become partial to tacos and also loves that you can order them to go. “There is no drive-through in China,” she said. Meanwhile, Fe’ has become a devotee of Japanese cuisine and a local establishment called Nikuni. “I love sushi,” Fe’ said.

Both Clara and Henry agree that American teenagers feel less pressure to study than do students in China, adding that American students are more focused on sports and social activities. Fe’, however, said “the relationship between teacher and student in America is much closer,” than it is in Europe.

Another astute observation came from Henry, who said his countrymen in China pay tribute to their flag daily. “Every Monday morning we have a raise-the-flag event, he said. “It is a tradition that is continued from kindergarten till you graduate high school.”

American fashion, or lack of it, has caught the eye of Fe’, who observed that Americans seem to prefer “more shirts and jeans, and [in] Germany they have more outfits and seem to dress up more.”

As expected, the students miss their home towns. “I miss my friends and the subways,” Chloe said. “There is so much more freedom and interaction with more people and your surroundings when you aren’t always in your own car.”

On the other hand, Clara feels right at home in America. “I have more freedom and choices here,” she said. “When I was home, I never went out at night and here I can do it all!”

When Chloe is not at school, her host family has taken her to popular Southern California attractions like Disneyland. The family bought her a Magic Kingdom pass, and she also spends time riding horses with the family.

Away from school, Ruben likes to hit the local slopes. “I go snowboarding every week at Mountain High and spend the rest of my free time hanging out with friends,” he said.
As for Chloe, Fe’ and Clara, they admit they’d rather go shopping.

Wherever you find them – in the classroom, in restaurants, at the mall or out skiing – the international cast of students at Bonita this year is achieving its goal “to learn English and experience something new.”

Their command of English is improving daiy and they have also developed a deeper understanding of American culture and style. The United States is a great country, they all agree, adding they sometimes wonder if  their fellow students fully appreciate just how much America has to offer.

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