ODA Says Ni Hao to Exchange Students



Hunter Bogumil, Staff Writer

What if you had a chance to move to China and become sort of, well, Chinese for a short period of time. If you had the opportunity to travel half-way across the globe to a Chinese high school and live with a Chinese family how would you do it? Would you reinvent yourself?

Would you consider changing your name to match your identity? Maybe you would choose the name Jin, meaning Gold? Or Kang, meaning healthy.


Once in China, you would have to get back into high school classes, of course. The catch: your classes would be taught in Chinese.

On January 30th ten Chinese students with very American sounding names will be participating in a foreign exchange program between ODA and KaiWen Academy, a college prep school located in Beijing.

“They are curious and excited” says Mandarin teacher Ms. Yu.

KaiWen Academy sends willing students to experience American culture and schools before throwing themselves into a college environment. ODA is one of the selected exchange locations for students. ODA families volunteer to be hosts. The host families provide food, transportation, and a place to stay. 

“I knew the experience would be great because they’ve never seen America before, and I wanted to be a part of that,” says sophomore host, Christian Ramos.


If this were you, in China, away from ODA and the comforts of home, you would hope the students at the school would be welcoming and kind as you adapted to the challenge. Most of us will not have the chance to see how the Chinese students would react. But ODA students will have the opportunity to help these students by welcoming them, showing them around campus, and directing them to places they can get support when they need it.

Sophomore Joanna Danielson, an exchange student from Sweden, knows firsthand about the challenge of an exchange.


“They need to be prepared to meet different people than what they are used to,” says Joanna.

These students will join us not only on campus, but also in our classes. Some teachers have noticed that the biggest struggles for them are reading and communicating. This is another area the ODA community will need to offer some support and patience.


“They need to know that at any time they can approach their teachers to ask questions.” says Chemistry teacher, Theresa Beeman.

Life outside the classroom is a whole different story and could be way more challenging than sitting in an organized environment being taught by a teacher. The scariest part for them will most likely be lunch and community work period. Those are two times where they are responsible for interacting on their own. Consider inviting them into conversation or to your lunch table.

Still thinking about how cool it would be to actually have this experience of the exchange yourself? This year, ODA is exploring the possibility of ODA host family children getting the same opportunity to enjoy a reciprocal experience in China. For now, don’t get too excited about traveling though. Our focus should be on getting to know those brave students from Beijing heading our way soon. 

Their first day is January 30th so get ready to welcome some new faces.

  • 9th grader, Richy
  • 9th grader, Alina
  • 10th grader, William
  • 10th grader, He
  • 10th grader, Martin