Foreign Exchange Students Return to Campus


Ronja Sesterhenn, a junior foreign exchange student from Germany, visits Disneyland for the first time with her host family.

Last school year PVHS was missing a key part of its student body: foreign exchange students. Although small in number, this important group of students enhances the diversity within the community and enriches the campus. This year foreign exchange students are back, and better than ever.


To provide context for how students from all over the world end up at PVHS, Michaela Golightly, a coordinator for the NW Exchange Agency, briefly described the process of becoming a foreign exchange student. 


She explained that students interested in studying abroad contact agencies such as the one she works at, and then are required to fill out a slew of paperwork to initiate the process. “The student completes a profile telling all about themselves…I study the student profiles and the hosting families to find the best compatibility match to ensure everyone has the best experience possible.” 


Golightly happily remarked that  “Being an exchange student is one of the coolest experiences there is! It takes someone open minded, brave, and willing to try anything once.” She loves the exchange student program because in addition to giving international students special opportunities, it gives those in Chico “the opportunity to travel to another country without ever leaving your home.”


Marta, a 15 year old exchange student from Spain who worked with Golightly in getting matched to a host family in Chico, spoke positively about her time at PVHS as a foreign exchange student. “People in PV are so nice and they help me in whatever I need. Also they are helping me a lot with English and teachers are very understanding.”


Carolina, a 16 year old exchange student from the mainland of Italy also described her experiences at PVHS as a foreign exchange student in a positive manner. She noted that “the life of a teenager is completely different here…in Italy from 16 you can do whatever you want.” Despite having to adjust to a new lifestyle, she expressed that she has enjoyed her time at PVHS and felt welcome. “The last few years I think there have been more exchange students, so it’s pretty simple to integrate.”  Through her relationships with other exchange students and her involvement in tennis outside of school, she feels it is easy to connect to the PVHS community.


Throughout the years the number of foreign exchange students at PVHS has steadily grown, and now there are more than ever. These individuals are a special part of the student body; they are simultaneously able to teach so much to and learn so much from other students at PVHS. Apart from Carolina and Marta, there are several other new foreign  exchange students on chico campuses this year who will be featured in future issues.