In Armenia, chess is even more popular than soccer. You can't buy Reese's Peanut Butter Cups all over the globe. And in more places than you'd realize, students attend school six days a week.
Those are just some of the facts learned while sitting down with eight foreign exchange students. The students now attend Aberdeen Central, Ipswich, Northwestern and Frederick. But they are originally from the Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Armenia, Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan.
The students assembled in Aberdeen on Friday through Sunday for their mid-year gathering.
Unlike the U.S., they said it's unusual for high school students to have jobs in their countries. In many of the nations represented, young people can't work until they're 18. In addition, employers often hire older people. And the students don't have time to work because they have to concentrate on their studies, they said. At the end of high school, they take exams that play an important role in determining their futures.
Most of the students interviewed said their homeland has school six days a week.
Lela Merabishvili of Georgia, now attending Frederick, said in her country, many students go to the teacher's house after school for tutoring. They then have homework to do in the evenings.
Ulbolsyn Kuanova, a native of Kazakhstan, said that sometimes the foreign students know more about the U.S. than the American students. Kuanova, who's attending Northwestern, said she and her friends can pick out American states on a map that some local students can't identify.
The exchange students came to the U.S. either through PAX, a nonprofit organization, or FLEX, a government-sponsored division of PAX that brings students from the former Soviet countries. The area coordinator for both programs is Vickie Moser of Leola.
It should be noted that the foreign exchange students are very good in the classroom. And some members of the group said the school workload is not much different in the U.S. than it is in their homeland.
Seven of the eight students said soccer is the most popular spectator sport in their country. The exception was Luisine Mamikonyan of Armenia, who said chess is tops in her country. She is now attending Ipswich. Two students from the Ukraine said boxing was also popular in their country. Yakaterina Vlasova, who attends Aberdeen Central, said hockey and the biathlon rank just behind soccer in Russia.
The students said American schools have more extracurricular activities. And while they're here, many are taking advantage of them.
Among the activities the students are involved in are debate, show choir, track, volleyball, soccer and cross country.
Kuanova said students have to pay extra to attend art classes in Kazakhstan. She speaks highly of the art program at Northwestern.
Vlasova said there is less prejudice in the U.S. than in Russia. Kuanova has noticed that Americans really care about people with disabilities.
On the other hand, some of the students have noticed that young Americans don't have as much respect for the elderly or property. One of the students from Georgia was surprised to see American students putting their feet on furniture.
They also said that visitors to a home are treated with more respect in their homelands.
In general, the visitors to America have less technology in their schools. Tetyana Pyantkovska, now a Central student, said at her school in Ukraine, students aren't able to do PowerPoint presentations.
Merabishvili said that at her school in Georgia, many students go to the library after school to do research.
In addition, the students said that people in their countries drink hot tea more than we do and not as much pop.
Here are other differences the students commented on:
·In their countries, they don't have a prom every year.
·Aigerim Kushilynova of Kyrgystan, now attending Central, said teenagers look older here.
·Most of the students don't have study halls in school.
·The students also said they miss public transportation. Pyantkovska said she misses the freedom that public transportation provides.
·Some of the students don't like American football. To Pyantkovska, it appears “cruel.”