In the last couple of centuries people got more aware of cultural differences. The World Wars contributed to this awareness. The government invented the exchange system in order to learn the cultural differences and prevent wars over these differences. Exchange has gotten more and more popular these last years, in fact, based on a recent survey of DHS students, 48 students out of 97 want to go on exchange (30 are not sure yet while 19 people said they didn't have an interest). What keeps people from doing it? What are they afraid of?
“My biggest fear?” said Leah Vander Roest, a senior at DHS. ”Probably that I don’t speak the language and that I’d be away from like all of my friends and family for such a long time.”
The fear of the unfamiliar, the failure, and the unknown keeps people from doing it.
Exchange students often compare their experience with a roller coaster. In the first months they feel happy and content, but after a couple of months they start missing home. This is mostly during Christmas time. Later in the year they feel like they finally settled down, their new host country has become their home.
During an exchange the students get to experience so many new things, whether it's the first football game, first time at Target or the first school day and school dances, they all have a huge impact on the student's overall experience. Exchange is a lot of firsts and lasts at the same time and the students only get one chance to make the most out of it.
"You feel both like very small but very like something big has just happened" said Ms. Erin Palmer, a former exchange student and history teacher at DHS.
There are so many countries,places and different cultures in the world to visit and do their exchange, but why do people choose the United States? "The United States is like a legend in Italy for all the movies and all the possibilities there," Zumbo said. "...Literally it's the State of freedom."
"We wanna host because we want to open up our home to other nations," said Gerry Ramirez, host dad." So they can get an opportunity to see what it is to live in an American home."
An exchange year is something special. Exchange students go through hard times but also through the best time of their lives. Most exchange students don't think twice when they get asked if they'd do it all over again. "Definitely!" Zumbo said. "I'm actually planning on finishing my last year of high school in Italy and then come back here for College."