Athenians on Exchange

Did you know that there are seven Athenian students on exchange right now in South Africa, Australia, Denmark, and India?

Athenian students have the opportunity to go on exchange for two to three months during their senior year at any of the Round Square schools around the world.  This year, students are chronicling their experiences while honing their digital media skills by contributing to a Round Square exchange blog.

Here are a few excerpts:

Haley Kardek is in India at the Lawrence School Sanawar.

“These temples stood in stellar contrast to most other parts in the city though and that is what amazed me the most. Everywhere we traveled was beautiful but obviously impacted by poverty and lack of modernization. Dogs and people alike, slept huddled together on the dusty streets. I saw a family (a mother, her two, very young sons and handicapped daughter) weaving in and out of cars stopped at a light, begging for money, food, clothes, anything. There were alley-ways where piles of stone and demolished buildings blocked cyclist’s way as they carried ladders, mats and bags of food to work or to their family. Valleys in between different parts of the city were covered with villages made from cardboard, sticks and cheap fabrics: anything people could find. And next to all that, right around the corner from all these people, were the temples: giant; gold-plated and silver painted; elaborately carved with pictures of landscapes, gods and decorations; clean; white. Both temples, despite that we were visiting in the middle of the day, were packed tight with people of all classes, worshiping and spending time with their families. Groups were huddled around inside, quietly speaking to each other as they prayed. These temples are places of community. These are the only places where everyone becomes equal and everyone can share their beliefs, ideas and love for a shared god. This is what I have found India is about: community and family. I asked Asma what she does religiously. She answered me that she herself doesn’t practice much but because of her family’s strong religious belief and the long list of traditions her family tries to uphold, Asma strives to participate in every family gathering and practice. Festivals and ceremonies are very sacred to the Indian community because they become the only time that everyone, from the corporate workers to the children selling fruit on the street, can come together and celebrate their common love. This to me shows the importance and value of being an active part in the family and community: a part in which I hope, I too, can soon become a part of.”

Pierson Tan is in Tasmania, Australia at the Scotch Oakburn School.

“On Friday I had the opportunity to go to the Global Leaders Convention hosted by World Vision. When we got there, about 125 kids total were sitting in an auditorium watching an episode of Iron Chef. The ingredient was truffles. We did a massive simulation to experience the way trade affects the many people involved in growing, farming, distribution, and selling of goods. I learned how farmers who grow the actual food get paid less than .5% of the final selling price of the good and how poor they are forced to become. We watched numerous videos of first person perspectives of hunger in Ethiopia. The six kids from Scotch Oakburn that went to the Conference got a much better understanding of the very real problem of worldwide hunger.

On Tuesday we had an Athletic Carnival, which is basically an all-school track and field day. There are four houses which compete for house points, similar to Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Of the four houses (Fox, Briggs, Nance and Dean), I am in Dean. The day started out with some early morning sunshine at around 8:15. I threw discus as my first event, about 20 minutes after getting to the track. I remembered Ray’s training and did the South African and the 1.5 spin throws and placed 5th in the Under21 Division A heat. Like always, I was the smallest discus thrower, but I earned a few points for Dean House. Since I’m an exchange, I wasn’t on the official roster for the races so I just filled in for two boys who were injured. The two boys were two of the most athletic boys in Dean House, so the events I was placed in were all in the highest division of competition. I did the triple jump, 200 and 400 meter sprints, and the 4 x 100 meter relay race. Although I was not nearly close to the fastest, I never came in last.”

Helen Thompson is in South Africa at Stanford Lake School.

“A typical school day here goes like this: I get up at 6:25 and get dressed.  Some days I wear the Stanford uniform and some days I wear casual clothes. A quick breakfast of toast, coffee and cereal from 6:45 to 7:00. Back to hostel for room inspection and to get my backpack ready. Classes start at 7:30 but most days we have mentor, which is basically advisory, or an all-school meeting in the amphitheater. After that there are 4 classes before tea. During tea there are sandwiches, tea and coffee served in the dining hall, as well as snacks sold at the “tuck” shop. Then there are two more classes before lunch. Here they eat lunch at around 1:30 and only have half an hour to eat and do clean up crew. Typically there is one or two classes after lunch depending on the day. After school there are sports practices for either hockey or netball, rugby, mountain biking or adventure. Dinner for girls is at 5:45 and for boys at 6:15. Then back to hostel before 6:30, otherwise you may get locked out. At 7:00 the first Prep period starts; Prep is an hour long block where you have to be in your room doing homework. At 8:00 there is a break, then the second Prep period. Quiet time starts at 9:30. Repeat the next day.”

Garrett Furlong is in Denmark at the Herlufsholm School.

“Last weekend was a long weekend so Peter’s dad took Peter and I into this little town inside Copenhagen called Christiania. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but it is a very socialist, relaxed, somewhat “hippy” environment where about 900 people live. There is a beautiful lake in the middle of it and dogs are running around everywhere. If you ask a Dane where to go while you are in Denmark, the top place he will say is Christiania because it is so unique. They do not allow people to take pictures inside Christiania because there is so much tourism that the locals get annoyed. If you pull out a camera, expect a local to come up and start [yelling] at you in Danish.”

Learn more about Athenian’s exchange program here.

For more on International Experiences at Athenian, go here.