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MVHS students experience different cultures
RUMFORD -- Mountain Valley High School students recently toured four European countries and two Asian countries.
Before taxpayers worry about the expense of 400 students traveling the world, the students never left their seats in the Muskie Auditorium. Each of the eight foreign exchange students introduced their country and explained the differences between their culture and American culture.
Jan Fillies and Robin Baxman of Germany explained that Germany is famous for cars -- BMW, Audi, Porsche, For Opel, VW and Mercedes. The audience laughed when the young men compared drinking ages and driving ages.
Jan said, “In Germany, we can drink at 16 and you have to wait until 21. It’s not so good though when it comes to driving. You drive at 15 or 16; we have to wait until 18.”
There was no laughter when Jan explained that he goes to school on Saturday every other week. Robin showed a picture of his school with its five buildings.
Next, Simon Jensen said Denmark has its own currency – the Danish Kroner – and not the Euro, like most European countries. He is not the only exchange student in his family; his brother is currently an exchange student in Minnesota.
Simon, 16, loves football. His football is actually what Americans know as soccer. When he returns to Denmark, he says with a frown, “I need to go to school for three more years when I get home.”
Adele Barreau and Bathilde Beteille shared the stage as they described life in France. Both young women missed French food including pastries, bread and cheese.
Adele lives in the Loire region and her town has a champion basketball team. Bathilde is from close to Paris.
From the Czech Republic, Marek “Marcos” Rakous was born the year the Czech and Slovak Republics separated into two countries. His home is in Prague, a city of 1.3 million people.
Marcus won the audience over with, “I like your school much better. Teachers are also much better. Don’t have Dunkin Donuts in Czech Republic and I love Dunkin Donuts.”
He garnered many laughs when he showed a slide that said, “What I don’t like here – skunks, we don’t have them.”
Yae Reem Lee of South Korea chose to have her host “brother” share her information. Her hometown of Boryeong City is on the Yellow Sea, south of Seoul. It’s claim to fame is a Mud Festival held every July. One of her slides listed what she likes about America: shorter school days, variety of school subjects and fast food.
Unfortunately, the assembly was running long and Yugi Zhang from China didn’t have time to show her 91 slides. She lives near East China Sea, south of Bejing.
She noted major differences between Chinese and American High Schools, “In China, we go to school from 7 in the morning to 9 at night. The period from 7 to 9 at night is no classes but a study time. We cannot choose our classes. Each class has 50 students who stay in the same room all day and the teachers travel between classrooms. We also do not have sports in schools like the Friday night football game here. Instead, we have PE lessons.”
Asked what she liked about American High School, Zhang said, “Freedom. I can ask the teacher to go to the bathroom or get out of my seat to get paper. In China, I cannot interrupt the teacher or they will get mad.”
MVHS students appreciate learning about other cultures from their classmates. In past years, lasting friendships have formed between the exchange students and their Maine counterparts. This year will be no different.