New School, New Country

By Talon Contributor Ryan Lim ’17

School identification photo for ninth-grade International Student ShuQi Ren, '17.

School identification photo taken in 2013 for international student ShuQi Ren, ’17, who’s from the People’s Republic of China.

Chaminade welcomed about three dozen international students, most from China, in grades 8-11 for the 2013-14 school year, with the change affecting classmates and teachers positively.

“I’m amazed at how these kids navigate in three languages in my classes: their home language, the English language, and the language of theology,” said Ms. Louinn Lota, Religion Department first semester instructor of all students involved in this article, including its author.

See where they live

Jon Chen, '17, also from China, was Miss Ren's classmate in the Awesome Apostles block Sacred Scripture fall 2013 course.

Jon Chen, ’17, also from China, was Miss Ren’s classmate in the Awesome Apostles block Sacred Scripture fall 2013 course.

Freshman Bijan Avaz stated that he enjoys the diversity and cultural exchange the program brought to the high school.

Patrick Cruz, another freshman, remains impressed by the international students’ ability to speak English, and finds the mix of these students in several of his classes interesting.

Exchange student programs began in 1961 with the federal Mutual Educational and Culture Exchange Act. Its purpose was to increase ethnic diversity in student populations in order to allow Americans to experience the lives of those from other nations, according to U.S.Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Bijan Avaz, '17, from the Encino area of the San Fernando Valley.

Bijan Avaz, ’17, of the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.

Studying overseas is not an easy process.

International students need to immerse themselves in a new language, and they must adapt to local customs and food.

Also, students must leave their families at home and live with host families.

Chaminade has welcomed our international students with open arms.

Teachers and students alike work to help students in and out of the classroom. Instructors, such as Languages Department teachers Mrs. Qian Kang and Mr. Kevin Sun often assist international students in their own language, while classmates help in the social arena, during dances or athletic games.

Patrick Cruz, '17, from the Sylmar area of the San Fernando Valley.

Patrick Cruz, ’17, of the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. He was in the Double Double Disciples Sacred Scripture class.

International students enjoy the community as well.

Ninth-grader ShuQi Ren said one reason she enjoys attending Chaminade is due to the variety of classes offered and the quality of the educational experience.

Another freshman, Jon Chen, likes the fact he takes only three or four classes a day at Chaminade compared with his more packed schedule back home.

Guidance counselor and former Chaminade West Hills principal Bro. Tom Fahy, a member of the religious order of the Franciscan Brothers of Ireland, made several recruiting trips to China. He said that Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana has a similar program.

Bro. Tom’s now the counselor for the international students, guiding them in academic as well as other aspects of their lives during their U.S. stay.