VHS Students Welcome the World

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VHS Students Welcome the World

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Verona High School  recently got the chance to host international exchange students from all over the world through a school club called International Weekend. The students came from countries all over the world including Chile, Italy, India, Tunisia, Spain, Sierra Leone, and Poland.

The club is made up of about 60 members of Verona students. Only eight members hosted an international student, while the rest of the club members help plan a weekend full of fun trips and opportunities to get to know everyone. The club is run by Verona teacher Mr. Bresnan, and is a big hit every year amongst the Verona student body in terms of participation numbers.

The weekend started off with a dinner at the Community Center in Verona. There was food served, a dance floor and a ton of music. Music is definitely one of the most prominent aspects that differentiates between cultures. The chance to dance and listen to music at the community center gave international students a chance to show Verona students some of their popular songs and dances from back home. By the end of the night, students from Verona knew special Indian celebrational dances, and the exchange students got to learn the American famous Cotton Eye Joe dance. The dinner gave the students a chance to have many completely different lifestyles collide.

The night was then followed by a bowling trip the next morning at Eagle Rock Lanes. Some of the exchange students explained that they had never bowled before, and that it was a first time experience for them. The students got to involve themselves in a friendly but intense round of bowling, only to take breaks for a basket of chicken fingers and french fries. Ironically, the exchange students were getting a good feel for America because it simply doesn’t get more American than that. 

Being part of the club, I got to experience something really special at the bowling alley. One of the exchange students from Sierra Leone, Janet, had been Skyping one of her friends from back home. They decided to add some other friends of hers from back home, turning the Skype call into a call with multiple people. I got the chance to talk to all of these different people from back in Arica who each had so many different stories to tell, and so many different accents and lifestyles. I simply have never realized how big the world is until I experienced all of the different people who live with in it.

The night that followed took place at Caroline Gault’s house, one of the club members. This gave students the opportunity just to relax and really talk and get to know one another. Like the dances, students were teaching each other games and sharing stories that really opened up the eyes of the students who didn’t really know anything outside of American traditions. It turned out to be Angeles’ birthday, an exchange student from Chile. Verona students decided to make it special for her and surprise her by celebrating her birthday all together that night!

The exciting weekend ended with a brunch the next morning at member Clara Frizzi’s house. This gave students the opportunity to exchange social media and numbers to stay in touch, and gave everyone the chance to say goodbye to one another. However, many of the exchange students who came for the weekend, were staying with another host family for the whole year in nearby towns like Montclair and Glen Ridge. Verona students have made arrangements to meet with the exchange students again even after the weekend, since they all became so close.

International Weekend is truly a club that gives students an opportunity to expand their cultural knowledge, and gives them a chance to step outside of their comfort zone. Verona is a small town, and it isn’t very often that you get to meet people from all over. The exchange students don’t just bring their suitcases to America with them, but they also bring their dances, their cultures, their traditions and so much more. The exchange students were a great addition to the Verona student’s weekend, and some of us may have made friends for life.