A look into one of UAHS’ unique programs and its underlying benefits
By Alex Keller, ’14
Senior Justine Frerichs is one of the 16 UAHS students who were chosen to host a Scottish student. During the 10-day trip, Frerichs did her best to envelope her Scottish student, Maddy Gowans, into the American culture.
The Scottish students were taken to Cedar Point, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and OSU’s campus; all things Frerichs recalled hearing her friends in the program talking about in previous years.
“Last year I had a lot of classes with seniors, [and] a couple of them were in the program and they were all talking about how excited they were for the students to come and how fun it was,” Frerichs said. “When [the UA students] actually went over during OGT week they were so excited once they got back. They said it was one of the best experiences of their life.”
Frerichs is also very excited to be a part of the trip to Scotland in March of 2014. After already visiting numerous cities in the United States and Asia, Frerichs is excited to travel to Europe.
“I am so excited. I’ve never been to Europe, so it’ll be good to go to another part of the world,” Frerichs said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Maddy’s school [and]meeting her family and other friends.”
The trip to Scotland will allow the UA students to visit cities such as Sterling and Edinbourgh. The students will stay in their selected Scott’s home and will experience first hand life in another culture.
With the Univesity of St. Andrew’s nearby, the group has scheduled a visit during the trip. This visit is one often anticipated because it was the first college ever built in Scotland in 1413, according to the University of St. Andrews’ official website.
With six centuries of history under its kilts, St. Andrew’s has managed to attract three Upper Arlington students into their four year program in the number of years the program has been offered at UAHS.
After hearing both high recommendations and the chance to quench her passion for travel, Frerichs sent in an application that would soon be one of approximately 30, reviewed by Scottish Exchange Program Coordinator Brian Chandler.
Chandler has been the program’s coordinator for four years taking over after the retirement of Sharon Freedman. Ever since his first year as coordinator, Chandler has strived to increase the number of applicants admitted into the program.
“When I took [the program] over, we only took 10 kids a year and we’ve slowly increased that,” Chandler said. “This year we have 16 kids going….but I wish we could take more kids because it is just a special program.”
The program stood out to Chandler because of its unique nature. A typical exchange would involve a foreign student coming to the U.S. and staying with a host family for approximately a year. However, this program reduces the length of the stay to 10 days and allows students from both countries to immerse themselves in the others culture.
“You really get a glimpse into the day-to-day life and I know it’s only a glimpse but because you are actually living with them and eating with them and doing things with their family, I really think [the students] get more of an appreciation of what that culture is like versus just sight seeing,” Chandler said.
Chandler has also been impressed by the number of life-long friendships that have spurred from the program. He even recalled two members from the program, one from UA and one from Scotland, later getting married. The two were not paired together, but had been in the same exchange group.
However, while the program is great for the authentic experience of another culture, it has other benefits, with the addition to a college application being one prime example. UA college counselor Kathy Moore has seen how much of a positive addition the program is for standing out to colleges.
“It’s another unique piece to what you bring to your [college] application and [the program] is something that Upper Arlington does but not a lot of other schools,” Moore said. “So at many schools where the competition is so strong it is just nice to have those other factors, and this is one of those things that are unique and special.”
Using this experience to write a college essay or supplement has been agreed on by both Moore and Chandler as a very helpful piece that can show colleges more of what a student will bring to the college.With that in mind though, Moore emphasized that while the program had great benefits for the college application, students should not apply just for that reason but rather to take advantage of a life-changing opportunity.
“If you’re interested in international studies and foreign languages or you just have an interest in learning about the world and different cultures, why not take advantage of such a wonderful program,” Moore said. “I think it’s wonderful to take advantage of any of those opportunities that come along.”
Image Caption:(1)After arriving on Oct. 4, Scottish students came prepared to spend a day at UA. Before entering the school, the 16 exchange students stopped to snap a picture in front of UA’s school sign.
(2)The Friday before the UA’s visitors were scheduled to leave, the group of both Scots and UA students took a trip to Hocking Hills. While the group hiked the majority of the day, they managed to stop and take a picture along the way.
Photos courtesy Brigitta Gegenheimer