Springwood International students discuss life in America
Posted at 10:30 am on Saturday, November 26, 2022
Four of the Springwood School’s international students—Guilherme Teixeira, Ken (Fung) Vu, Julie Baker, and Rafael Frémont-Casala—discuss their impressions of the United States and the Springwood International program.
In its 10th year, the Springwood School’s international program currently includes 29 students from 10 countries, according to International Program Director Ann Hickson. There are 23 students in the international home. These four students live on campus.
Teixeira arrived in Springwood in January. Teixeira, who is from Brazil, wants to play soccer at a college in America, so he starts looking for high school exchange programs.
“I want to go to college here, I want to play football in college, so I was looking for a high school with good academics and a good football program. I found Springwood for those,” Teixeira said. “So, we figured it out, and now I’m here. “
Fu, from Vietnam, has been in Springwood for three months, too. He said he did research to prepare for his stay in America and was welcomed by his fellow Americans.
“There is no culture shock for me because after I got the visa, I did some research,” Kin Fu said. “There is one thing they say that I don’t see as true. They say students here might hate us as Asians or Africans. But I don’t see it. We feel like family and friends.”
Fremont Casalla from France. For her, it wasn’t quite an adjustment to travel alone. Her real shock came when she entered the classroom.
“The culture shock I went through was here at the school,” Fremont-Casalla said. “In comparison, in France, we don’t have relationships with our teachers. In France, it’s like you need to listen to them, and here, it’s more like we work together.”
The class structure was very different for Becker and Vu, too. They added that their lessons in Vietnam and Germany were the least practical of the activities. Fu said that there were no group projects in his old class.
“I think the fact that I am here is a blessing because this is a dream for many people,” Fu said. “If I were there now, every day, there would be a lot of homework and pressure. We didn’t have any activities like sports.”
The students agreed that being away from their families was a big challenge. Teixeira said international students have to be adults in some ways but it will be worth it in the end.
“You feel a little bit different because it’s just such a big thing to do on your own,” Baker said. “But after a few times, it’s been great. The community is here and people are open-minded.”
Fremont Cazalla said she loves that Springwood is a great fit. She is happy because she can decide for herself which American customs she feels comfortable participating in.
“The thing I really appreciate here is that they don’t force us to take the Pledge of Allegiance,” Fremont Cazzala.
“I have a friend in the States, and his school makes him take the Pledge of Allegiance and all this stuff like he’s American, and here, we don’t have to do that.”
Teixeira also said that his classmates teach him more than just American culture. While he is working on his English, two of his roommates are also tutoring him in Spanish. He is learning about the Congo from someone else.
“It’s kind of crazy because I came here to speak English, and I’m learning Spanish and English at the same time,” Teixeira said.
“You start to learn about other countries. You start to think, Oh, my life isn’t just about Brazil and the United States.”
Springwood staff provides assistance with college applications, scholarships, and other resources.
Baker said she feels more prepared for the future thanks to the academics at Springwood. As a sophomore, PSAT helped her learn what to expect next year with the SAT.
“They give you so many opportunities, and they really prepare you for life after school. I took the PSAT,” Baker said. “And I think it’s good to know what you have to do. Because as international students, you don’t really know what the SAT is. It was good for me to see what our test would be like.”
Hickson said most international students have gone to the college of their choice after Springwood. Many students go to UCLA and California State University. Some also went to Texas A&M, the University of Utah, Penn State, and the University of Illinois.
“Over the years, we have had 29 admissions to the top 100 schools,” Hickson said. “Especially with our international students, we have students everywhere now.”