Exchange Students Study Performing Arts at Southeastern Regional Voc Tech
Salome Mund and Els van Raaij chose to leave their familiar surroundings and embark on an adventure they’ll never forget: the opportunity to experience the life of an American teenager during their junior year of high school.
Host Sharon Baker of Mansfield is no novice with the “Youths for Understanding” exchange program. She has already opened her home to 13 exchange students, choosing Southeastern Regional for the most recent 7. “Southeastern has made a difference. Two of my recent guests went into business back in their home countries after studying the Marketing program at Southeastern. They wouldn’t have had that educational opportunity back home”. As for current students, Salome and Els, she noted that “These students really enjoy it, and Southeastern really fits for them. Southeastern has been supportive to us and the kids, and the kids for the school. I didn’t really realize how many wonderful programs there were at Southeastern.”
The experience fulfills a childhood dream of Dutch student, Els. “My mom participated in the same program when she was a teenager, and she always told me what an amazing time she had while she was in the USA. So ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to do the same. I’ve never been outside Europe and I really wanted to see what the USA was like. I didn’t get to pick the school; it was pure luck I ended up at Southeastern”.
Els next and biggest dream is to become an actress, making Southeastern Regional the perfect fit. “I’m in Performing Arts at Southeastern, and I love it. I was in my school’s drama club back in the Netherlands, but that was only on Fridays. I feel that in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve learned more useful things about theater than I had back in the Netherlands in 4 years. I hope to improve my English and acting skills at Southeastern, meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends while I’m here and learn from them about what they think is typically American. Their daily lives might seem boring and normal to them, but it’s all new and exciting to me. I also hope the experience will make me a wiser and more understanding person.”
Els’ American public acting debut is set for Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:00pm at Southeastern Regional’s cafetorium where she will play the part of Lead Thespian in “Just Another High School Play.” Tickets may be purchased at the door for $5.
Salome Mund of Germany has also fit right in at Southeastern. “After the first month I got so used to it here that sometimes I don’t see the differences any more. I really like it here.” Miss Mund is enjoying her introduction to the American culture. “The students are friendlier here and sometimes just walk over to me and say things like ‘I like your outfit’ or ‘you look beautiful today’”. The lunch experience reminds Salome that she’s not back home. “In Germany we don’t eat with our hands. We always eat with forks and spoons, except for a sandwich. Sometimes my friends laugh when I eat even my French fries with utensils”, she noted with a smile. Making the most of her year, she stays connected and involved in extra curricular activities. “One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is playing soccer, but now that it’s over I will choose a spring sport – maybe Lacrosse because we don’t have it in Germany.”
Upon completion of the school year, both young ladies will have plenty to share with their friends back home. Els said “I would most certainly recommend the USA and Southeastern to my friends back home because everyone I’ve met here has been unbelievably friendly, nice and open. And the fact that they have Performing Arts shop only makes it better.” Salome added, “I would recommend the program, but it depends on how independent you are being away from your family. I haven’t been homesick, except on my first birthday away from home.”
Mrs. Baker absolutely recommends the exchange program. “The girls help out by volunteering at the Mansfield Animal Shelter. I see the students blossom into amazing adults. In addition to their American friends at Southeastern, we also try to get together with other exchange students in the area. Els and Salome help out by volunteering at the Mansfield Animal Shelter.” When the exchange students return home at the end of the year, it’s often not the end of their friendships. “My former students from Denmark, Germany and Hungary made the long trip back to the US for my daughter’s wedding and stayed for 3 weeks. We enjoyed our time together. And I’ll have a lot of places to visit when I’m no longer working.”
Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School is a public 9-12 vocational high school located in Easton, Massachusetts, serving approximately 1,255 students from the city of Brockton and the towns of East Bridgewater, Easton, Foxborough, Mansfield, Norton, Sharon, Stoughton, and West Bridgewater.