Portage Northern Welcomes Foreign Exchange Students

Each year, foreign exchange students from around the world come to PN to experience a different culture, school, family, and life.


Dianne Ro, Editor-in-Chief

“It has always been a dream to come to America,” says Gabriel Sabio (12). “My mother put me into an English school and since then I’ve wanted to come.” From Araçatuba, Brazil, he expresses that his experience in Portage has been positive and going well, joining Northern’s soccer and baseball teams and enjoying his host family. “Northern’s different [from public schools in Brazil], but it’s a really good school.”
Sabio is one of the many students that have made their way to Portage Northern High School through an exchange program for the 2013-2014 year. Up from last year’s 12 exchange students, Northern can boast students from countries such as Brazil, Thailand, South Korea, Germany, Russia, and Spain. Students can find these international students in various sporting events, International Baccalaureate classes, and throughout the town with their host families.
Charles Park (12), flew from Seoul, South Korea in hopes of clearing dividing lines between Korean and American cultures. “The Korean school system is very different,” he says, “Here we switch classes, while in Korea, the teachers switch classrooms.” Park also appreciates the earlier bed times in the United States, as opposed to the Korean standard for high school students to study into late hours. Sabio points that the biggest difference between Aracatuba and Portage is the level of security. “In Brazil, I live in a house with an electric fence and pitbulls because the security problems.” One of the best things about the United States, according to Sabio, is the cheaper fast food; Brazilian forms of McDonald’s BigMacs are around $15, over ten dollars more than BigMacs in America.
As Portage Northern gets to know and befriend the international students, both exchange students and students at Northern start to learn the various cultures of different countries. Despite the differences in language and culture, Northern and the exchange students can see that everyone has something that ties one another together.