By Olivia Rohling and Paula Zalar
For the 2019-2020 school year, McNicholas has welcomed seven Rockets from around the world: Junior Duru Bekircan from Turkey, junior Adrian Montaves Blanco from Spain, senior Jianheng (James) Guo from China, sophomore Hayeon (Hallie) Kim from South Korea, sophomore Maya Kissler from Germany, junior Quan Le from Vietnam, and sophomore Jakob Stern from Germany.
Theology teacher Teresa Davis is the faculty member whose main role with the international students is to support them during their transition to McNicholas. Davis helps make it easier for the students to connect and find their voice, and that the program, “broadens the focus of the students in the building and it helps the students in the population… to learn and grow and hear about other people’s lifestyles and education lifestyles. It’s a safe space… to see what education in America is all about.”
McNicholas’ international students are here through two different companies with two different types of visas. Director of Admissions Christina Mullis said, “We have used NACEL Open Door for many years. They send us both one year students who come here on a J1 visa, as well as students who will graduate from McNicholas on an F1 visa. We have recently partnered with an additional agency, IPERC. They work with students primarily from China who will attend on an F1 visa.”
Students participating in the international exchange program choose where to travel through these agencies. Schools around the world participate in foreign exchange programs as an opportunity to experience both a new educational environment and a new cultural environment.
Students who take part in the program gain experiences in a new country, as well as enriching their development by meeting new people. Current principal David Mueller and Davis both agree that having international students in the building helps broaden not only the view of the international students but the McNicholas students as well.
“I find, in my own experience and journey, the more I get to know people from other places, the larger God seems to be because these folks mirror so many aspects of who God is that I didn’t know. We are all connected,” Davis said.