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Diversity celebrated at Hopkinton High School’s International Night

by | Nov 8, 2018 | Featured

In one night, you could travel from Italy to Germany, from Switzerland to Thailand — all by walking from one side of the room to the other.

   On Oct. 25, Hopkinton High School’s (HHS) Ambassador’s Club hosted their annual International Night, an evening to celebrate the diversity of the international students attending HHS through an exchange program.

   “International Night is about educating our students about different countries and cultures while helping our international students better acclimate to Hopkinton High School,” said Laura Theis, HHS world language teacher and Ambassador Club advisor.

   Twenty-four exchange students coming from nine different countries are attending HHS this year, for either half or the full school year. The students stay with host families in town while attending HHS during the day and are even encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities to get the full experience of American high school.   

   Hoping to educate the HHS community on their ethnicity, the exchange students worked to develop presentations about the customs and culture, food, and fashion of their home countries. Community members were invited to “travel” from country to country, taste testing the local cuisine and learning about what makes each location special.

   “I made beef jerky and black sticky rice so that people could taste traditional Thai food,” said Klam Sermkijseree, who is visiting Hopkinton from Thailand.

   Sermkijseree is spending the year at HHS, choosing to receive his education specifically in the Hopkinton School district.

   “I heard that the Hopkinton Public Schools are one of the best public schools in Massachusetts,” Sermkijseree said of his research when deciding on a school in the United States.

   So far the experience has been exceptional, he said, noting that the community has been very welcoming.

   “Everyone has been so helpful,” said Sermkijseree. “So far it has been great.”

   Italian exchange student Costanza Alberti agreed that it was the reputation that made the area desirable for students planning to come to America to study.

   “I really wanted to see this part of America,” she said. “Everyone said that Massachusetts was a good place to study.”

   Along with sharing samples of traditional Italian fare including pizza, pasta, and tiramisu, Alberti shared a project which included laying out some stereotypes that Americans have of Italians, and why those ideas are false, as well as explaining the meanings of hand gestures that Italians are known for.

   And although all of the countries may be separated by thousands of miles, school officials at Hopkinton High School hope that the exchange program and events such as the International Night will bring about connections that can build bridges to span those miles.

   “Much of this program is based on the idea that relationships matter,” commented HHS Assistant Principal Joshua Hanna. “It is critical to get to understand each other so that in times of stress, we don’t think of conflict as a solution. We think of the times we came together to celebrate differences.”


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