Berryville resident, Tanya Barton, attended the 2010 national meeting of PAX – Program of Academic Exchange, an educational foundation dedicated to promoting international understanding. Barton, a PAX community coordinator, was invited to the conference in recognition of her work on behalf of cross-cultural education in Virginia. PAX provides a US high school homestay experience for teens from more than 35 countries.
The conference this year, held in Nashville, TN, celebrated the 15th anniversary of the PAX program and provided an opportunity for PAX representatives across the US to meet international partners as well as each other. conference participants attended workshops and seminars that focused on strengthening the support given international teens during their year in the US. The meeting’s theme, “Going for the Gold” – a nod to the Winter Olympics simultaneously held in Vancouver – not only celebrated the shared emphasis on intercultural understanding, but also highlighted the high standards PAX has set for itself and its participants.
“The Department of State recognizes programs like PAX as citizen diplomacy at its best,” notes Barton. “We’re advancing understanding across borders by building lasting friendships right in our own back yards.”
Barton has the complete dossiers of boys and girls from a rich mix of countries all of whom would welcome a “home away from home” in Virginia for the 2010-11 school year. An eligible host family need only provide a bed, quiet place to study, meals taken at home and a supportive environment. Families need not have teens in the home. For more information, contact Tanya Barton at 540-955-9135 or the PAX national office at 1-800-555-6211.
As part of our PAX series, Clarke Daily News offers exchange student Jade Mermet-Lavy in her own words:
CDN: What is your name: Jade Mermet-Lavy
Jade: I will be 17 in May.
CDN: Where are you from (city, state, country)?
Jade: I live in Condes, near to Oyonnax in France.
CDN: When did you arrive in the US?
Jade: August, 18th in New York.
CDN: Have you been here before?
Jade: No, it was one of my dreams.
CDN: How does the US education system compare to your home country’s education system?
Jade: It’s really different, you can choose your classes and you have a lot of choice, Art, yearbook, equine management, guitar, band, etcâ€¦
The teaching is not the same either, the teachers are more present for the students and the tests and quizzes are easier than in France. In literature, it’s also really easier than in literature in my country. I think the more similar are the mathematics classes and maybe also biology and IB classes.
CDN: What is your favorite class at Clarke County High School? Why
Jade: I think my favorite class is Forensic science because it’s really interesting and I really like this class. It gives a preview of the forensic world and I think it’s a really good idea because we have no idea what it really look like. It is really much more complex than we can believe it and forensic scientist included a lot of qualifications, and various tasks. It different every time in function of the case and I think it why it is also interesting. We learn every time.
CDN: Are your classes here more difficult or less difficult than your classes at home? Why?
Jade: For most of them they are really less difficult than in France. The only difficult thing was the language in the beginning for me to understand in class and to take notes. But when you understand, it’s easier.
CDN: Clarke County has been debating whether the books “The Color Purple” and “The Hand Maiden’s Tale” should be included in the advanced reading program? As a visitor from another country, what is your opinion about this?
Jade: I think it will be really and truly interesting to include those books in the advanced reading program because that will permit to have a more opened vision and also for most of the students, have a really idea what it is, even if you have sometimes violence in “The Color Purple” for example but it’s what happens in the real life so I think it’s a good idea to show it to the students and like that, to permit to talk and debate about that.
I noticed the territory of the United States is so huge that most of the time, the teenagers and even most of the people who don’t have the opportunity to travel are ignorant of what is happening in the world and what life looks like in other countries.
CDN: What have you enjoyed the most about your time in the US?
Jade: My American life! To do everything as an American teenager, to go to an American high schoolâ€¦ and I really enjoy my life here with my amazing host family, the others exchange students and the new people I met here.
CDN: What have you enjoyed the least about your time in the US?
Jade: I really don’t know, maybe the fact that we pretty much don’t have any holidays if I compare to France.
CDN: Brag about yourself a little
Jade: I like to play sports, reading, writing and drawing. I love languages and travelling. Coming here was one of my dreams that I have realized thanks to my parents.
I am really glad to be able to spend my year here, meet all these new people and really learn has to speak fluently english. This experience makes me want to do the same thing in other countries to learn other languages and discover new cultures.
CDN: What are your plans for the future?
Jade: I don’t know yet exactly what I want to do in the future but I would like go in an international business school or maybe to study the law or political sciences.
CDN: Would you recommend a PAX experience to another member of your family? Why or why not?
Jade: Yes, because it’s fantastic experience which permits to learn a language by living a unique experience, to meet new persons and especially to discover a new culture. I think that it gives a new vision more opened on the world and give also maturity and even more wish to travel! I am already not any more the same person as I was before coming.