2/19/2009 - District 86 hosts students from across the globe
for the Sun-Times News Group
It takes a brave soul to travel across the world and immerse themselves in an unfamiliar culture.
Especially if that soul belongs to a teenager.
A handful of such teenagers can be found within Hinsdale High School District 86. Thanks to study abroad groups like the American Field Service Intercultural Program and Foreign Links Around the Globe Inc., Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South High Schools are hosting students from Germany, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Austria and other nations.
Though they each come from different countries, they have one thing in common: They are all experiencing American culture for the first time.
Many of District 86’s foreign exchange students came to America for three primary reasons: To improve their English language skills, learn about American culture, and to be on their own to an extent.
“I came here first to learn English and to be fluent, and then to learn to be independent from my parents,” said Vitor Madruga, a 17-year-old from Brazil, who attends Hinsdale Central.
Others, like 15-year-old Alina Grumt of Germany, were simply looking to expand their horizons.
“I love Germany, but I wanted to do something different,” the Central student said.
However, it’s one thing to learn a language in a classroom, but having to use it in a real setting is different altogether.
Theresa Steurer, a 16-year-old Austria native who attends Hinsdale South, said that having an accent sometimes makes it difficult to pronounce certain words, citing “probably” as an example.
“German is similar to English, so it was OK, but some words are harder than others,” Steurer said.
In Switzerland, 16-year-old Central student Julien Schroeter was in a class that prepared him to speak English, but perhaps not as he might have hoped.
“In our school we listened to British movies,” Schroeter said. “So when I got here it was really different.”
Nevertheless, the students praised their American peers for helping them with their cultural transition.
“Everyone was so nice,” Steurer said. “Sometimes when I didn’t know something, there’d be someone there, so they would tell me.”
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