One of the most interesting and educating experiences that teenagers can have is studying abroad. They get the opportunity to learn about different cultures, make new friends, and get to see education from a different point of view. At Old Rochester Regional High School, there is a club that makes all this – and more – possible.
The AFS/ORR Cultural Club recently visited Chicago as the second part of an exchange program that involved Chicago students visiting ORR in February. The exchange was to compare the schools, the local cultures, and to have the members make new relationships with students outside of their community.
The AFS Club has made an impact on the school over the years, including bringing many students from overseas and giving them a grand welcome as they spend a year here at ORR. This year, ORR has students from Italy, Norway, Germany, and Mexico. Member Brianna Lynch explains, “We have been exposed to many different traditions and practices that we can learn from,” as a result of AFS Club, she said.
“Students benefit a lot from being a part of the program,” said Christiane Peretz, a student from Norway, “and even though it’s pretty different from home, I have a great support system here.”
Because of the difference in curriculum, Peretz is technically still in her junior year and will have to do another year back home, but to her the extra year pales in comparison to the experiences and friendships made here at ORR. She has been involved in Drama Club and the Gay Straight Alliance Club at ORR.
“I definitely think that the AFS Club and our exchange programs have made an impact on ORR’s community by widening our connections around the world and opening our minds to new cultures,” Sofia Sudofsky, ORR club member, said.
Responsible for the club is Kim Corazzini, the school’s nurse. Corazzini has been the club’s advisor for over ten years, and in her opinion the AFS Club has made a major impact on the school’s community and the lives of the students. The adventures that her students have been able to experience over the years in AFS Club have enriched their lives as is evident from the alumni that still contact Corazzini and inform her of friendships that continue to thrive from their time in the club.
“The value of the foreign exchange students is immeasurable. Because of them, our students become interested in countries they might not have heard of,” said Corazzini. “Another benefit is that we all make assumptions about other people and their cultures, whereas this program allows students to discover myth from reality.”
On the trip to Chicago, the ORR students met up with the AFS Club at Lisle High School. During this trip, students were able to experience different cultures, communities, and educations. For example, the high school in Chicago doesn’t have homerooms and has seven classes each day, unlike ORR’s every-other-day schedule. For the foreign exchange students, it is a chance to have more than one American high school experience.
“The Chicago trip was a great way for not only the foreign exchange students, but also the kids at ORR, to see how much or how little our schools or our communities have in common with each other,” says Katie Maclean “even if it’s just a plane ride away.”
By Grace Mastroianni