Clintonville’s foreign exchange students
Most surprised by size of host city
By Bert Lehman
For the third year in a row more than five foreign exchange students are attending Clintonville High School.
Bram Donne, Belgium
Bram Donne said he wanted to become a foreign exchange student because he wanted to learn the American culture, as well as become more independent.
“Making the step from child to adult,” Donne said.
Upon hearing he was heading to Clintonville he said, “I was really happy because my departure got postponed many times,” he said. “I was really happy I found someplace. It didn’t matter where.”
When he arrived in Clintonville he thought the city was how he imagined it would be. Donne comes from a city twice as large as Clintonville.
“I like the school, although it’s pretty easy compared to Belgium. The tests are a lot easier and the homework is easier,” Donne said.
Since arriving in the United States, he said he has gone tubing on a lake, and attended a Packers game, as well as Oktoberfest in Appleton.
Before he leaves, Donne said he wants to experience what it is like to live in America.
Benyapa Gangaketu (Oom), Thailand
Benyapa Gangaketu said the main reason she became a foreign exchange student is because her parents wanted her to pursue it.
“I also want to be an exchange student because I want to learn new things, have new experiences, share my culture and learn some culture,” Gangaketu said.
Originally from Bangkok, living in a small city like Clintonville has been an adjustment for Gangaketu. It’s an experience she said she has enjoyed so far.
She said school in Clintonville is also very different than school in Thailand. Thailand has more subjects, as well as more homework. But she said the homework in Thailand is easier.
Gangeketu has been busy since arriving in the United States, going to a lake, hiking and attending football games.
While in the United States, she said she wants to make lots of friends.
Alejandro Golmar, Spain
Wanting to meet new people was one of the main reasons Alejandro Golmar became a foreign exchange student.
He said he was fine with the initial finding that he was coming to Clintonville He didn’t even research the city before arriving.
Clintonville High School is different than his school in Spain, but he said he likes the school system.
“In Spain we have to study a lot,” Golmar said. “Here you have to study, but not as much.”
Golmar said he has attended several sporting events since arriving in the United States.
Nina Graeve, Germany
Wanting to experience a new culture prompted Nina Graeve to embark on her foreign exchange student journey. She said she wanted that journey to be to the United States.
She admitted finding out she was coming to Clintonville was a shock.
“I was kind of shocked because I come from a city of 1 million people,” Graeve said. “Clintonville is really small.”
After arriving in Clintonville she said she realized how green the area is. She added she wasn’t used to seeing that many fields.
When comparing Clintonville High School and her school in Germany, she said homework was about the same, but she had more classes in Germany.
“That’s really different here,” she said.
She has attended a Packers game, which she said was fun.
In the future she’d like to travel before she leaves the United States.
Atilaya Kaeokhamehaeng, Thailand
“I’d like to learn a new language, so I came here because I wanted to speak English,” Atilaya Kaeokhamehaeng said.
Clintonville is much smaller than the city where she lives in Thailand. During her research though, she learned there are a lot of trees in the Clintonville area.
“I love nature and you can get a lot of fresh air,” she said.
Using a computer to submit homework was something new for Kaeokhamehaeng. She said all homework in Thailand is done on paper.
So far she has enjoyed spending time with friends.
“I like to hang out with friend because we don’t have too many parties in Thailand in high school because we study a lot. We didn’t have time to hang out,” she said.
When asked what else she wants to do in the United States, she said, “Everything that I can do I will.”
Karine Munoz, France & Columbia
Karine Munoz said she became a foreign exchange student to learn English and a new culture.
“And challenge myself to live a year without my family, to live by myself and be more mature,” Munoz said. “Maybe it’s early at 15 years old, but I think it’s a good age. I don’t think there’s a specific age for you to be independent.”
Living in Paris, France, she said she cried when she found out she was coming to Clintonville.
“I immediately looked to see how many people live here and I found out there was like 4,000, that’s my street,” she said.
Her fears were eased when she arrived in Clintonville.
“I’m happy because you don’t need to know 2 million people,” Munoz said.
She added that she likes the fact people say “hi” to each other when out and about in Clintonville.
“I really like it. It’s small and there are a lot of trees,” she said. “Of course in Paris we don’t have that. And it’s very green and now it’s turning red, orange and yellow.”
A difference in the schools she has noticed is students in Clintonville hang out in peer groups and don’t mix with other peer groups. That’s not the case in Paris, she said.
Leonie Nolden, Germany
“I wanted to be an exchange student since I was really young,” Leonie Nolden said. “I always wanted to live in another country. I wished for America because I like all the football games, school and sports.”
She too said she cried when she was informed she was going to be living in Clintonville.
“It’s in the middle of nowhere and I come from a big city of like 1 million people,” Nolden said.
She said she likes Clintonville High School. She added that there are less quizzes and tests in Germany.
She has enjoyed swimming in a lake, as well as shopping in Appleton.
She said she wants to hang out with her friends as much as possible.
Letizia Panciroli, Italy
There were three reasons why Letizia Panciroli wanted to be a foreign exchange student — to grow as a person, to travel and to see new things.
Being in Clintonville is fine with Panciroli.
“I expected to go to a small town. I was happy,” she said.
Even though she expected a small town, when she arrived in Clintonville, it was still an adjustment.
“It wasn’t exactly what I expected because roads and houses are very different from what you find in Italy. Here you don’t have big buildings,” she said.
She said Clintonville High School has nicer and larger buildings than her school in Italy. Even though her school in Italy has 2,000 students, the physical buildings are smaller than CHS.
“Teachers are more informal, where my Italy teachers are more formal. They’re not like your friend,” Panciroli said.
Since her arrival, Panciroli has gone boating on a lake, tried water skiing and attended a Packers game. It was her first time in a big stadium and she said she enjoyed doing the “The Wave.”
She also visited Chicago.
“I really love the big city,” she said.
Margherita Radaelli, Italy
“I wanted to be an exchange student since I was a little girl because I really like traveling and my parents always encouraged me to do this experience,” Margherita Radaelli said.
She said she wasn’t sure what to think when she found out she was coming to Clintonville.
“I was excited and scared at the same time because it’s smaller than my city in Italy,” she said.
Her research revealed Clintonville has a lot of green space, which is opposite of the city she where she lives in Italy.
The schools are also opposites.
“In Italy students stay in one room and they don’t go around school, the teachers move,” Radaelli said.
She added that Italian schools are more difficult, but the teachers in Clintonville are nicer.