International Exchange Program
International Exchange Program
International Exchange Programs at RUHS
The International Exchange program at RUHS is comprised of students from a wide range of backgrounds who wish to make connections with visiting exchange students.
Students and their families not only provide hospitality for exchange students from all corners of the globe, but travel on exchange programs as well. Membership is open to all RUHS students.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on student exchange programs everywhere during 2020, but this year Randolph Union High School has rebounded with an impressive four exchange students in attendance.
Over the coming weeks, we'll introduce you to our four visiting students here.
Meet Tina Vesmina
Story by Wilder Grimes, courtesy of The Herald October 14, 2021
Meet Tina Vesmina, a junior from Latvia. She is 16 years old and this is her first time visiting the U.S.
Vesmina is fluent in Latvian, Russian, and English, and she knows some German and Ukrainian as well. She grew up in Liepaja, a port city on the coast of Latvia. More recently, Vesmina lived in Riga, Latvia’s capital city, where she went to high school.
Latvia is located on the Baltic Sea and bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, and Belarus. She described Latvia as a small country—“a little more than 50% of the country is trees”—and one that is rich in traditions. For example, the Latvian Song and Dance Festival has been celebrated every five years since 1873.
“We’re a big singing and dancing nation,” she said.
Randolph is much smaller than Riga, and Vesmina said she finds the people at school outgoing and friendly, with much less drama. She said the climate is similar, but that it’s colder in Latvia.
“Everyone is trying to scare me with the Vermont winter, but I don’t know that that will be the case.”
When asked about the food here, Vesmina she was shocked by how much bread people eat.
“In school they give us cheeseburgers—that would not happen back home. That really was the biggest ‘wow’ about food here, everything is flour and bread.”
Vesmina said she cooked for her host family and they were surprised by the food she made. Latvians eat a lot of soups and potatoes—and definitely not as much bread. Her favorite thing to eat in Latvia is a dish called plovs, which also happens to be the national dish of Uzbekistan. It is made with rice, carrots, tomatoes, and pork, similar to risotto.
Long School Day
School here is very different, Vesmina said. In Latvia, school starts at 8:30 a.m. and students don’t get out until 5 or 6 p.m. She likes the greater freedom to select classes that she found here, which she thinks allows for students to focus on their interests before getting to college.
“In Latvia, they have the perspective that we need to learn everything. Here you learn what you like and you go deep in it,” she said.
Back home, Vesmina was president of the school council for a few years. Outside of school, she did ballet for 10 to 11 years until she had to quit because of an injury. She spends a lot of time with friends, going to concerts, and shopping. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do after high school, but she’s considering studying in the U.S.
Welcome, Vesmina, to RUHS.
Meet Marina Fernandez y Wiese
By Wilder Grimes, Courtesy of The Herald, November 04, 2021
Marina Fernandez y Wiese is a 16-year-old exchange student visiting Randolph from Hamburg, Germany. She is fluent in German and English, and she knows some Spanish, too. This is her first time in the U.S., and she is excited to be here.
Hamburg is a port city in Northern Germany and Wiese described her home as being urban and modern, with lots of old charm.
“Hamburg is a pretty big city—we have about two million citizens living there,” she said. “Because of the harbor in Northern Hamburg, [much of our] culture revolves around fishing. Hamburg is also a very multicultural city, there are many people from all over Europe.”
Wiese noted that the climate in Randolph is similar to Hamburg, but there is much more green in Vermont and the state is much more mountainous. Though she knew Vermont was a rural state, Weise was surprised by its sparse population.
“I thought it was going to be mostly suburbs,” she said, “maybe a little smaller. Then I came here and it was very, very small. It’s a lot more rural than I thought.”
“School in Hamburg is a lot harder,” says Wiese. There she takes 13 classes, and a school day lasts longer. “We have a lot more subjects, and our subjects are a lot harder in general.”
She was surprised by school in Randolph.
“I did not expect the classes to be so fun,” says Wiese. “I think the career center is a super cool thing. We would not have that in Germany and I did not expect such a small town to have that.”
Unlike most people who decide to do an exchange year before choosing a destination, Wiese has had her sights set on visiting the U.S. for a while.
“It was always clear that I wanted to go to America. An exchange year for me was the way to do it,” she said.
In Hamburg, when not busy with school, Wiese spent a lot of time riding horses. She plays viola and violin in her school’s orchestra and is a member of the music club. In Randolph, Wiese has been playing volleyball and attending theater club. This winter she’s planning on joining the basketball team.
After high school, Wiese wants to travel more, and is even considering returning here for a few years. “So far I really like it here, so I’m definitely thinking about coming back to America.”
She is very happy to be here in Randolph, but her favorite part so far has been her trip to Florida. “Florida is a completely different experience,” said Wiese. “It was exciting to see the big-city perspective, but I’m very excited to be here. I enjoy being in a smaller town, I like that.”