Exchange students to feast with host families | Free Content

by D.J. DeJong

Mail Staff Writer

Thanksgiving with their host families will be a new experience for three young men currently attending Salida High School. 

Yi Hsiang “Sean” Tseng, 16, of Taipei, Taiwan, Caetano Figueireda,  17, of Assis, Brazil, and Abel Greger, 16, of Munich, Germany, are spending the academic year as juniors at SHS, improving their English and learning more about American culture.

They all work on their language skills with teacher Maggie Falconi, who coordinates the Salida School District’s English language learner and exchange student programs.

Tseng said his parents wanted him to come on the exchange student program as a way to improve his English.

He said the experience so far is about what he’d expected.

Tseng enjoys sports, especially soccer, but is trying out football, baseball and basketball this year.

He said he had no idea what career he wants to pursue when he finishes school.

Figueireda said he has wanted to visit the U.S. since before the pandemic.

He said he really wanted to learn about a new culture and improve his English for “a better future” and has enjoyed meeting new friends.

Coming from an area where the average low temperature is about 69 degrees, he said he was surprised by the cold weather in Salida.

He said he was surprised to find people don’t drink as much juice here as they do at home.

While he expected a small town, he said there seems to be as many things to do in Salida as in his home city of  about 105,000.

Another surprise was that people here seem to be more accepting than at home.

Figueireda’s future plan is to become a psychiatrist.

Greger said his reasons for coming to the United States to study include improving his English and learning about the culture. “I wanted to see how life is here,” he said.

He said he was surprised by how easy school is here compared to Germany, where testing at the end of the last year determines one’s success.

Greger’s future interests lean toward business as a career.

All three boys played soccer in the fall and credit themselves with making about 85 percent of the goals for the Spartans this season.

There are advantages and disadvantages to being an international student.

For Figueireda pluses include the people he has met and the opportunity in itself. The hardest thing for him, he said, is being away from his girlfriend, but the two keep in touch by phone.

Tseng said he enjoys playing sports with his Spartan teammates, but he struggles with English. He said he is working on speaking and reading the new language.

Playing team sports at school is a new experience for Greger, who plays soccer in a sports club in Germany because there isn’t a school team. He said he enjoys the school spirit.

Coming from a large metropolitan area, he said he misses city life while living in a small town.

As the season changes and the holidays approach, the three are looking forward to trying snowboarding at Monarch Mountain.

For Figueiredo and Tseng the mountains are a novelty, and Greger said the Rockies are different from the mountains he is used to.

The international students will be in Salida until June, after the school year ends.

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