Emna from Tunisia creates International Club at her American high school
While studying in the United States, Academic Year in America (AYA) exchange students show their communities the world in a new light. Emna, an AYA and Youth Exchange and Study (YES) student from Tunisia, inspired cultural awareness in Ohio by co-founding an International Club at her high school. She shares her inspiring story below:
[The International Club] started when I wanted to launch a debate club at my school in the first place. I’m really interested in speech and debate, but the procedure of launching a debate club was too long. I shared my interest of public speaking with my friend Arin, an exchange student from Indonesia, who suggested the idea of the International Club.
Arin and I both talked to each other about our countries a lot. We shared and compared different aspects of Tunisian and Indonesian traditions and we truly wanted the rest of our friends to know our stories. In other words, this was a way for us to get involved more and strengthen our bonds with American students!
Our meetings are held on Wednesdays after school, and our first meeting was during the first week of February. We welcomed 12 students ready to learn and get to know us.
The International Club’s purpose is to increase cultural awareness, break stereotypes, and foster intercultural relationships within our school community. It also helps us, exchange students, step outside of our comfort zone and get involved in different activities with Americans.
The meetings have included: giving presentations, sharing memories and pictures, participating in cultural activities, learning a foreign language, tasting ethnic foods, celebrating holidays, and responding to questions. The questions and answers are so fun.
One of the questions that made me smile was, “Since you speak four languages, in what language do you think, and in what language do you dream?”
Our future meetings will include sharing other exchange students’ stories, and having Americans present some facts about their country for us. Finally, we will organize a farewell party before the end of the school year to thank everybody for the love and support they’ve given us.
We are really happy that we started this club. It’s like we started a new family, and a new home where we not only share fun stories, but also open up about things that bother us and try to find solutions together. We successfully made the club our small home.
Want to foster cultural awareness and break stereotypes within your own local community? Host an inspiring exchange student like Emna with AYA. Learn more about hosting today!
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