Every year there is an influx of new students walking around the Reynolds campus, these Argentine exchange students come for one month for enrichment in our city.
“I wanted to come to America to learn about your country and experience everything I’ve heard about here,” said exchange student Maria Victoria. They come during our fall while they aren’t in school and Americans go to their school in the summer when classes are still going on.
“Mrs. Silva and her son, Mr. Silva, come every year to recruit people to host and to go there. She’s the director of the school in Mar del Plata that they come from and runs it with her son,” said Tamara Akimbo, a Reynolds Spanish teacher.
The school in the coast of Buenos Aires is K-12 with about 150 high school students, small compared to Reynolds almost 2,000 student body.
“They can see firsthand our culture and things they’ve never seen in Argentina,” said Akimbo. “An example of that is how there’s a very small to non existent population of African descent in Argentina so for some of them it’s the first time they see black people.”
The diversity that Reynolds holds makes it one of the best schools for them to attend in WSFCS compared to Mount Tabor and West Forsyth or other schools that participate in the program.
Student Mateo was originally staying with a Mount Tabor student but is now with RJR student Todd Holbrook.
“Reynolds is an old school compared to Mount Tabor so the building structure is very different but very pretty and that’s probably what I like most so far,” said . With a little suggestion from other RJR students, he said “I’ve only been here one day but Reynolds is better than Mount Tabor.”
Although our schools and the Argentine school are relatively similar in purpose and make up, they are very different in almost all aspects.
“The main difference in terms of school is how ours is eight hours at the same school with no career center or anything like it,” said Victoria. Fellow exchange students can agree. “A big difference between schools here versus Argentina is how strict you are with schedules and being on time,” said .
The students stay with their host who has the responsibility to take them everywhere them, including classes at Reynolds. Victoria stays with senior Neely Dubose and her family.
“My new family that I stay with has been very nice and I love them already,” said Victoria. “It’s interesting to adapt to another person’s life and go through their everyday routine.”
Although the students don’t receive a grade in their time here, they benefit in many other ways and even help teachers.
“Their school is bilingual so they’ve been taking English classes for their entire English careers and they get to come here and be integrated into our society and classes and that’s an excellent way for them to practice their English,” said Akimbo. “Having them in my class helps me practice my Spanish speaking with natives because there aren’t many fluent speakers in these classes.”
These students have English as their second language and can even help other students in Akimbo’s class. “I use them as resources in my class and generally pair them with someone other than their host who doesn’t have a student to host and they get to converse and learn about each other,” said Akimbo.
They seem to appreciate what Akimbo is trying to do for them and it works well for all the students. “My favorite part about Reynolds is the Spanish class with Ms. Akimbo, she is very nice,” said Victoria.
Exchange students are given a chance to explore the city and experience things that we are used to but may be completely new to them.
“Your food is very good here, my favorite part so far has been going to restaurants and ordering new kinds of food,” said .
Another aspect is the pop culture that is a little unique to America that they will learn about.
“They don’t know much about our pop culture so some of it is totally new to them,” Akimbo said. “But you know, some of them probably have heard of Justin Bieber.”
Photo from Neely DuBose