Say ciao to this year’s AFS participants

    As Shorewood’s 2021-2022 school year comes to an end, American Field Service (AFS) students will return to their homes. AFS is a non-profit organization that offers programs for students to study abroad in countries around the world. Exchange students this year include Melina Angelis from Germany, Gabriele Rizzo from Italy, Ana Bazterrica from Argentina, Melissa Cag from Turkey, and Pornnapa (Beauty) Lomchanthala from Thailand.

Melina Angelis

    Melina Angelis has appreciated the experiences she has had in Shorewood. The senior continued her passion for various sports and clubs. Angelis played tennis, basketball and soccer this year.

    “It was the best decision and the best experience to come here, you get to know so much new stuff and step out of your comfort zone,” Angelis said.

    Many AFS students got to try and experience new sports, dances, and events that were new to them. For Angelis, playing and watching sports was what she enjoyed most in her free time. 

    “Basketball season was my favorite with the tennis season as well… I was always motivated to go to practice because it’s not normal for me to have practice every day after school,” Angelis said.      “Apart from my games, I loved watching the boys’ basketball games with my friends, and also boys’ baseball because I didn’t know baseball before.” 

It was the best decision and the best experience to come here.

— Melina Angelis

    Angelis came to study abroad in the United States to feel the experience of American culture. 

    “I saw in all the high school movies stuff like prom and I was like ‘ok, I want to do that’… Going to soccer games and football games, that’s what I wanted and that is what I got,” Angelis said.

    Angelis also enjoyed the AFS club, which they met every Tuesday in Mme. McFarland’s room. During lunch, they often talked about things they did on the weekends, learned about other exchange student experiences, and discussed any concerns they had with Mme. McFarland.

    “[We] talked about stuff and how everything was going with our families, what we did on the weekends… I enjoyed that because it was good to hear from the other AFS students and how it’s going for them,” Angelis said.

Gabrielle Rizzo

    Gabrielle Rizzo has thoroughly enjoyed his time at a foreign high school. The senior has been involved in unique classes and clubs at Shorewood. Rizzo discovered his interests while participating in Key Club, Star Wars Club, REDGEN, and Pharmacy Club. He credits this discovery to the staff that consistently supported him. 

     “I love the staff. The teachers do a great job. I like the clubs and opportunities that students have. Clubs like REDGEN with Mr. Brown were very fun,” Rizzo said.

    Rizzo enjoyed Shorewood’s non-scholastic activities, such as prom, in addition to his admiration for the vast array of opportunities provided by clubs and classes.

    “I think prom was one of the best nights of my life because it was well organized, the location was beautiful, and the atmosphere was nice,” Rizzo said.

I like the clubs and opportunities that students have.

— Gabrielle Rizzo

    Many people may find it difficult to spend a year away from family and friends in a new country. Rizzo, on the other hand, conquered it with enthusiasm. He has thoroughly enjoyed his year as a      Shorewood resident and student. His visit altered his perceptions of American food and people.

    “I love it here. I want to live here one day,” Rizzo acknowledged.

    Rizzo asserts that his time at Shorewood has been superior to his previous school due to a significant difference in mental health transparency.

    “I am pretty sure that school in Shorewood is better than my school back in Italy because people here care a lot more about mental health,” Rizzo said. “Teachers here care about students. In Italy, it is different.” 

    As it turns out, 16 Shorewood pupils are having a similar experience to Rizzo. Over the summer, these students will participate in educational exchange programs in nations ranging from countries all over Europe. As an experienced exchange student, Rizzo offers the following advice to these individuals. 

    “Be careful. It’s challenging but don’t be scared and don’t be shy. It is a great experience,” Rizzo said.

Beauty Lomchanthala

    Beauty Lomchanthala, a Thai native, says that her favorite aspect of Shorewood is its small size. According to her, this feature made it easier for her to integrate into the student body. 

    “Shorewood’s size makes it pretty easy to [get to] know each other. We have a lot of fun things to do, like bowling.”

    During her time as an exchange student, Lomchanthala participated in the costume club, which she appreciated because it made her feel like she was a part of the school. Lomchanthala’s favorite class was P.E. SHS’s freedom of choice appealed to Lomchanthala in particular. This was one of the most noticeable differences between education in Thailand and education in the United States.

    “The education [in Thailand] was really thin. In Thailand, we cannot pick classes by ourselves. For everything, the school will choose for you, as if you were a baby. But here, there is a lot more freedom.”

Now I have friends that make me feel a part of Shorewood

— Beauty Lomchanthala

     Lomchanthala also expresses gratitude to her host family for their assistance in acclimating her to life in a foreign land. Her host family provided her with a variety of experiences that were foreign to Lomchanthala. 

    “My host family always gave me a chance to do things I’ve never done. I went rock-climbing. I went sailing. I flew in an airplane. It was so fun.”

    Milwaukee has also piqued Lomchanthala’s interest. Although she admits that the major fluctuations in temperature were difficult to deal with, Lomchanthala does not miss Thailand’s year-round scorching heat (many days exceeding 100° F). If there is one thing Lomchanthala will definitely miss as a Shorewood senior, it is her friends she made.

    “In the beginning, I felt I was alone. But now, I’m good. It’s been 10 months and now I have friends that make me feel a part of Shorewood.”

     For the students participating in educational exchange programs over the summer, Lomchanthala offers the following advice as an experienced exchange student.

    “I would like to say that you have to be an extrovert. When I first arrived I was an introvert and I didn’t want to talk to anyone because I wasn’t confident. You need to be confident,” Lomchanthala said. “You should try something new that you’ve never done before. Open your mind to talk with people. It’s going to be a really cool experience.”

Melissa Cag

    Although she has two more years of high school left in Turkey, Melissa Cag will graduate from SHS as a US senior. She was always excited to study abroad, but her exchange experience has exceeded her expectations.

    “I expected [the American high school experience] to be worse than it actually was. I thought that there would be a lot of bullying and racism and all that stuff, but in Shorewood High School I didn’t see that and that’s really great,” Cag said.

    Some highlights of her year included going to Chicago with her friends, attending prom, and a trip to California with her host family.

    “A lot of things happened this year, and all of them were really cool.”

    Cag’s host family helped to make her experience a memorable one.

My host family is awesome… I feel like they are more like my friends, and that’s really nice.

— Melissa Cag

    “My host family is awesome…I feel like they are more like my friends, and that’s really nice. They were really welcoming when I first came.”

    Returning to Turkey soon, Cag has reflected on the positives and negatives of her experience.

    “Of course I miss my friends and my family and my town, but actually I like school here more than I like school back in Turkey.”

    Certain aspects of her life in Turkey are notably different than in America.

    “Our food culture in Turkey is really rich and there’s a lot of traditional foods that you cannot find here that I really miss,” Cag said. “Also, I miss just the vibe of my town. Here, people like to stay inside their houses and they pretty much have a lot of things to do in their houses… I feel like in Turkey people have a lot less in their houses, so they always get out, and I miss getting out as much as I did.”

    Ultimately, Cag appreciates her year at SHS.

    “Overall this experience was really great… I’m really grateful that I had the best exchange year for myself.”