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January 29, 2024

Forming Bonds Worldwide: CHS Welcomes Foreign Exchange Students to Camas

European exchange students Charlotte Bunz, Magda Capitani and Mawllys Le Dean from left to right, courtesy of Capitani

Around the world, teenagers travel to the United States to experience American life and a new culture. In Camas, eight students participate in the foreign exchange program run by Career Information Specialist Sean Tamura to experience the Papermaker life. Camas High School (CHS) strives to create a welcoming environment for everybody, especially new students, and the exchange program does not come short of Camas’ embracing spirit. 

“Different exchange programs are able to contact me at any point throughout the school year, and then they can submit an application for an exchange student,” Tamura said. “Each exchange program can only have a maximum of two students, and then we only have a maximum number of eight spots available each school year.”

Students Le Dean and Capitani respectively, courtesy of Capitani

Tamura ensured that students could adapt to CHS by giving them merch alongside other things in a welcome bag. He hosted meetings at the beginning of the year to allow the students to meet others like them. 

Three exchange students felt that the meetings and gifts helped them feel more a part of Camas. Since they are from Europe, it was tough to adapt to the different culture of America.

CHS junior and exchange student Magda Capitani said that her reasons for studying abroad are rooted in her love of exploring foreign countries and lifestyles.

“I really like travel and learning a new culture, new country, new people and learning English. [I love] the idea of creating a new reality only by myself and with the other side of the world,” Capitani said.

However, integrating into American life was difficult for all the exchange students. Maellys Le Dean, a student from France, is happy to spend time with fellow exchange students while they all adjust to a new culture and extended time away from home. 

“In Europe, you have the same [friends] your whole life. [At CHS], it’s like you have temporary friends,” Le Dean said.

Students Butz, Capitani and Le Dean left to right, courtesy of Capitani

Butz felt a friendly community immediately. She described her home in Germany as rainy and cold, so she finds Washington weather incredibly comforting and a homesick cure.

Despite the welcoming school, the three students do find it tough to adjust to American meals. Capitani and Le Dean said they eat dinner close to 9 p.m., while in America, dinner is usually eaten close to 6 p.m. They shared that in Italy and France, there are smaller portions. However, there are snacking times between meals. Le Dean describes her snacks as consisting of cheese and bread. Friends and family in their home countries told the girls not to expect great things from American food, yet they all agreed the food was delicious and not like they thought it would be. 

All three have enjoyed the welcoming environment of not just CHS but the City of Camas itself. The three love random compliments from strangers, something uncommon in Europe, which they did not expect compared to what they heard of Americans. 

While the three girls have reasons for choosing to be exchange students, Camas has equally given them a great experience through kindness and warmth.

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Lilia Boyd, Copy Editor

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