Exchange Students Gather for Multiculltural Celebration

Jern Ken Chew, Shafic Osman, Jon Artaza, Piril Eteke, and Nuska Osmonova, Photo credit Emma Dowling

Wednesday evening was the final meeting of Clarke County Public School’s Multicultural Advisory Committee. Attendees were treated to an excellent variety of food from different regions and countries. Special guests were five Clarke County High School exchange students who shared their experiences from this past school year. Several of the exchange students wore traditional dress and local PAX Exchange program coordinator and host parent, Tanya Barton wore a beautiful Ghanian dress brought by one of her students, Shafic Osman.

Nuska Osmonova, a student from Kyrgyzstan staying with the Gonzalez family, brought a traditional three stringed instrument and performed beautifully for the group. Somewhat like the lute, the komuz has a rich sound for such a small, fretless instrument. An example can be found here:

Jern Ken Chew, staying with the Davis family in Berryville, shared that he likes “everything” about his visit to the United States. When asked what he will miss most, Jern Ken said his host family, and basically “everything.”

Jon Artoza, from Basque Country, explained some of the key differences between where he lives in the Pyrenees area between France and Spain.

Piril Eteke is from Turkey and is staying with the Kerby family. Piril shared her story of the “pig scramble” at the Clarke County fair. She had never seen a pig before, no less children chasing one in a pen! Jon Artaza also agreed the fair was a highlight of the year. Shafic will miss fast food, even though he knows it isn’t healthy.

The PAX program continues to provide innumerable and mutually beneficial opportunities for visiting students, host families, and Clarke County residents.

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The vision of the CCPS Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC) is to “Promote diversity and inclusion in the Clarke County Public Schools.” Members include staff from each school, and parents from the community. The mission reads: “Creating solutions for issues and concerns related to diversity and inclusion to promote the success of all students and staff in the Clarke County Public Schools.” Chaired by D.G. Cooley/Primary Campus Assistant Principal, Robert¬† Carter, the MAC will focus on increasing student achievement, cultural awareness, and diversity in the CCPS workforce. A new focus of community service was also added this year and will continue in the future to increase community outreach and awareness. Meetings are held throughout the school year and are posted on the CCPS calendar.


  1. Sam Card says:

    I want to praise Emma Dowling for her photo credit. Thanks Elizabeth for the great story. Thanks Mr. Carter for helping to promote diversity in our school and being a welcoming and friendly person for the foreign exchange students. They enrich the learning expreience for the local students.

  2. Tammy Lanham says:

    Hosting is a wonderful experience- and the opportunity for students to experience American life and exchange cultural insights (particularly at CCHS and in our small community) is a precious one indeed.

    Thanks to Clarke County Administrators for supporting the exchange students in Clarke County and to Tanya for her dedication to the students involved with the PAX exchange program!!