The Foreign Exchange program brings new faces from multiple countries to Leesville Road High School each year. These students leave their home countries for an entire year to see how American high school students live, experience and improve their English.
Leesville has five foreign exchange students this year: Lena Weltrich, Hanna Lindquist, Hanna Koepff, Warunya Sakolvipas, and Alicia Busch. Each of these students left their home country to live with an American host family for a year and learn about what it is like to be an American high school student.
Hanna Koepff, junior, decided to leave her home country of Germany to come to America. “I applied to Norway and the United States, and I got a scholarship to the US, so I decided to come here,” said Koepff.
Going to Leesville football games is one of the best experiences in Raleigh for many of the exchange students, including Lindquist. “The sports here are very different than in Sweden. [In Sweden,] it’s not the school who organizes games, it’s smaller clubs. Sports are a much bigger thing here,” she said. Koepff agrees: “We don’t have so many sports and not as many [people] come.”
Many people enjoy going to other countries to experience exotic fashion and food, and these American preferences are rubbing off on the exchange students. “My favorite American food is biscuits from Bojangles,” said Lindquist, and Koepff’s new favorite foods are donuts and apple pie, while Sakolvipas remains by the old standby, chicken. What many Leesville students may not realize is that these are new and unfamiliar tastes for people from other countries.
The clothing that Raleigh residents wear is also different from the exchange students’ homelands. “It is a lot more strict here,” said Lindquist. “It’s a lot warmer here so you want to wear less clothes, but there is a dress code, which we don’t have in Sweden.” Sakolvipas on the other hand has to wear a “sweatjacket” more often because North Carolina is much warmer than Thailand, her home country.
Koepff also noticed the differences between American dress and the way students dress in Germany. “[In Germany] it’s okay if you wear the same clothes more than one day. Here, people wear something different each day.”
What may surprise many Leesville students is that these exchange students follow American politics. While most Americans do not know anything about German politics, Koepff followed the 2008 election and is a big fan of President Obama. Aside from going to Disneyworld, a dream Koepff wishes to fulfill before leaving the US is to meet Obama.