The 2019-2020 school year has been the culminating year of the Global Initiative Program and Saint Stephen’s. This year, we received visits from three international sister schools from as far as Japan, Argentina, and Denmark.
In recent years, our Global Initiative, a program started more than a decade ago, has been steadily rising in reach. We went from just hosting international Skype calls a few years ago, to teachers visiting sister schools in China and Tanzania, to IQ trips to places like Japan and Argentina, and now— they’re coming to us. This year, three major international visits came occurred right here in Bradenton.
It’s an impressive feat.
The first group of students to visit SSES hailed from Colegio Nacional de Monserrat in Cordoba, Argentina (we visited them last year). They stayed with Falcon host families for a little over two weeks in early November. While in the states the Argentines experienced a week of classes, an American Halloween, went to the beach, and joined the Marine Science class on a boat trip, just to name a few activities.
Nikole Gaydos, a sophomore, said that her time with her Argentinian exchange student was “an unforgettable experience” and that “she and [her] are like sisters. We just really got along and are honestly such great friends,”
Another student Riley Schlick, a freshman, also had an amazing hosting experience. Schlick said that “It was so great because you get to learn about different cultures and lifestyles and you gain friends from different parts of the world.”
Schlick also said, “I missed the fun times that I had and the memories I created. I really wish they could’ve stayed all year.”
The Argentinian group stayed the longest and had the most in-depth experience because of that.
Colegio Nacional de Monserrat student Nicolas Alaniz said that he was impacted by the differences between Argentinian culture and American culture. “[I was surprised by] the way that you all have your classes, how you switch rooms and classmates, and the relationship that the teachers have with the students that is very different from ours.”
He also added that “[He] basically loved everything that he experienced.”
Another one of our sister schools who visited us in November of 2019 was the Eisbjerghus Efterskole from Denmark. They saw a football game, went to the beach, and visited a local public elementary school while staying in Bradenton for a week.
The last international exchange of the year was with Shibuya High School, from Japan, who visited the campus in early January and stayed for four days, going on Kayaking trips and visiting a local school, Team Success.
Math teacher and one of the coordinators of the Global Initiative Program, Mrs. Cotton, said, “The fact that we are able to offer these exchanges and expose our students to a variety of different cultures from all over the world is absolutely amazing. I believe that preconceived ideas and opinions are challenged every day when we are able to get together and have honest discussions about what it is like to live in different parts of the world.”