The Student News Site of Wilsonville High School

Wilsonville Broadcast Network

The Student News Site of Wilsonville High School

Wilsonville Broadcast Network

The Student News Site of Wilsonville High School

Wilsonville Broadcast Network

An exchange of cultures through students

Introducing Wilsonville High’s three exchange students: Elsa Chen, Aitana Fdez, and Tebbe Janssen
This world map illustrates the interconnected journey of our exchange students forging bridges across continents. Photo provided by RawPixel, creative commons.

Through the halls of Wilsonville High School, restlessness echoes as the spring season ferries tradition and anticipation across the murky waters of the winter semester. Spring marks the start of the end of the year, bringing earlier sunrises, later sunsets, spring sports such as baseball, track, and tennis, prom, and finally, graduation. 

These are traditions specific to America’s high school system, activities that we watched occur in coming-of-age movies and heard about from older family members and siblings. We’ve grown up with the expectation that we all will individually experience these milestone events and that they will leave their marks on our lives. High school is only four years, after all. 

However, attempt to imagine a world where you were completely devoid of these expectations. Imagine a world where you never dreamed of trying out for the high school varsity team, attended football games, dreamt of your perfect prom dress, etc. Imagine a world where your high school experience was reduced to mainly just attending classes and returning home. 

For many international students, this is the reality. You can imagine the appeal of spending a year in an American high school for a student outside of the USA. This is the circumstance of Wilsonville’s three new exchange students: Elsa Chen, Aitana Fdez, and Tebbe Janssen. 

Elsa is from Taiwan, Aitana is from Spain, and Tebbe is from Germany. All three students are part of our junior class at Wilsonville and participate in extracurricular activities.

Elsa Chen is from Taiwan. She is a dancer at Wilsonville and was recently named the female Wilsonville High School Athlete of the Week for Jan. 17. Elsa arrived in Oregon on August 20th and is currently staying with a host family. She is here to experience American high school and improve her English. So far, she has commented on how friendly and outgoing American students are. 

Aitana Fdez is from Spain, specifically Galicia, a region in the Northwest of the country surrounded by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea is an area famous for its landscapes of extensive green forests, green wooded valleys, wild beaches, and lighthouses. Aitana arrived in Oregon in August but transferred from Riverside to Wilsonville at the start of September. She is currently staying with a host family in West Linn. 

Back home, Aitana enjoys playing handball and swimming outside of school but after arriving in the USA, committed to trying cheerleading. She is currently part of Wilsonville’s very own cheerleading team and can be seen leading the crowd from the sides at basketball games.

Aitana has come to Oregon intending to grow as a person and to truly live the American high school experience. Her English is already excellent although she has commented on the differences between the American and British English pronunciations and personally prefers the American accent.

Lastly, Tebbe is from the north coast of Germany. He arrived in the USA in mid-August and is staying with a host family in Villebois. Janssen quotes, “I didn’t have much of a language barrier since I already learned English in Germany. So that didn’t affect me much.”

Instead of coming to Wilsonville with the main goal of English, Tebbe is focused on immersing himself in the American culture–specifically the sports culture. 

Janssen is a member of both the varsity boy’s snowboarding team as well as the varsity boy’s football team. He was also named one of the Wilsonville High School Athletes of the Week on Jan. 31 for his successes on the snowboarding team. 

The presence of exchange students like Elsa Chen, Aitana Fdez, and Tebbe Janssen at Wilsonville High School brings to light a fresh and expansive perspective on the American high school experience to Wilsonville students accustomed to the establishment. Their immersion into our culture, participation in extracurricular activities, and pursuit of personal growth underscore the richness and diversity of educational exchanges. 

Through their eyes, we can glimpse the contrast between the familiar rites of passage we often take for granted and the true realities faced by students from abroad. As Elsa embraces the warmth of the American friendly disposition, Aitana navigates the nuances of cultural growth and adaptation, and Tebbe delves into the vibrant sports culture, their stories remind us of the universal desire for connection, exploration, and self-discovery.

 In an effort to better welcome them into our community, we advise students to not only extend hospitality but also broaden their perspectives by seeking out these students. As the year comes to a close, it is apparent that our time with these students is more limited. We advise students to introduce themselves, learn of these students’ home countries, and form lasting intercultural friendships.