Hanover County has become a beacon
for students from around the globe.
This year, HHS is home to 5 foreign
exchange students, the most out of any
in the County. Each student hails from
a different country, including Switzerland,
Costa Rica and Germany.
“Veronica Corrales is with my family
and she’s from Costa Rica in a little
town where I lived,” Spanish teacher
said, “She found us,
but we had to find an
Another foreign exchange
student at HHS, Sarah
Bossert from Swizterland,
who is living here for this
school year, used an organization
called Education First to
arrange the details of her exchange
year. Education First specializes in
sending foreign students to America,
language classes and international and
domestic tours. The company will also
teach English to many Brazilians in
preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics
(according to ef.edu)
“I had to fill out a 15 page application
and then I got accepted. After that
I just had to do paperwork for my visa,”
The process of going on a foreign
exchange program is long and complex.
Visas have to be obtained as well
as arrangements with insurance companies.
Many private companies exist
to streamline the process, but HHS
doesn’t have its own club or program to
provide students with resources.
“Kids are asking me, ‘Señora, what
if I want to go away?’ and I give them
organizations I’m aware of, but there’s
nothing super organized for the school,”
Wadsworth said. However, some organizations,
such as the Rotary Club, will
sponsor the student and work in tandem
with the school.
Since each company has its own vision
for the students, class requirements
vary. History classes, or other classes
that are specific to America are common.
Bossert is required to take U.S history,
government and English. The rest
of her classes are her choice.
“It’s very individual in the
program. This program requires
[Corrales] to be a junior, when in reality
she’s a sophomore. She has to take
U.S and Virginia History and American
Lit,” Wadsworth said.
Not only do foreign exchange programs
provide incredible opportunities
for the students traveling to other
countries, but to the other students at
the school as well. Wadsworth and
another HHS Spanish teacher Chad
Taylor both participated in foreign exchange
programs as students.
“I was 17, I left Buffalo, New York
and went to Córdoba, Argentina. I lived
with a family and nobody knew any
English,” Wadsworth said, “The experience
is 11 months living in a different
country, in a different culture and
going to school. It’s so incredible for
the student and also for those hosting
Bossert decided to study abroad at a
younger age and based her decision to
come to America off of her prior experiences
in the country.
“ I remember coming home from
school one day and I just decided that I
can’t stand being here any longer.
I have always been interested in doing an exchange
year because I have always loved foreign
cultures and wanted to get to know them,” Bossert
said, “So when I was 14 years old I
decided to leave my country and I signed
up for an exchange year.”
Finding a host family
is also a vital step in finalizing an
exchange year. For many programs,
background checks are required for
every household member above 21. In
addition, the house is surveyed to make
sure that it’s a suitable environment for
Wadsworth described how many
organizations want to ensure that the
student is able to leave their family for
an extended period of time.
“You think of yourself between
15 and 17, coming to live in a foreign
country, are you mature enough?”