Park City Day School welcomes students from Colombia |

Park City Day School welcomes students from Colombia

Back row, from left: Sofia Boda, Olivia Tracey, Katrina Chala, Courtney Lemons, Laura Pardo, Heidi Frauenberg. Front row, from left: Camden Goodman, Alexa Tracey, Manuela Henao, Ashley Lemons. Students from Colegio Los Nogales in Colombia visited students and their families from Park City Day School earlier this month.
Courtesy of Jessie Levesque |

When four new students came to Park City Day School, they had to make some adjustments. For starters, they could no longer call teachers by their first names, and they weren’t able to leave the school during lunchtime. Not to mention they were in an entirely new country.

Four eighth-grade students from Colegio Los Nogales in Bogotá, Colombia, are participating in Park City Day School’s first global exchange program. The teens spent two weeks in Park City earlier this month and, next month, four Park City students will visit Colombia’s capital.

Ian Crossland, head of the Park City Day School, said that the exchange is part of the school’s goals to be both “Park City-centered” and “global in our reach and perspective.”

Crossland chose Colegio Los Nogales because he was head of that school before coming to Park City last year. Plus, Park City Day School is a candidate to join Round Square, an association made up of schools around the world that organizes student conferences and exchanges. Colegio Los Nogales is also a member, said Jessie Levesque, an English and communication teacher for the school.

“It seemed appropriate that our first exchange would be with this Colombian school, which we already have a really close connection to,” Levesque said.

Like most exchanges, it is meant to help students from both countries learn about the lifestyle and culture of another part of the world. The youth can understand and appreciate those differences while also realizing how similar they are, Levesque said.

Olivia Tracey, an eighth-grader from Park City Day School, said that she and her exchange partner, Sofia Boda, share a love for animals and movies that she was not expecting.

“It’s really nice to have someone from a different culture that you can relate to,” she said. “It makes it easier to know that they are not so different from you.”

Addison Frauenberg said that her partner, Laura Pardo, already feels like a part of her family.

But she notices the differences also.

“She is obsessed with going to Target,” she said. “Things that we think are very normal here, like Target, they don’t have.”

The Colombian students note the contrasts as well, such as starting school later and seeing students involved in half a dozen extra-curricular activities. Some of those differences they envy, but there are cultural norms from home they miss.

In order to be selected for the exchange, the students were required to submit a video explaining what they would bring from Colombia to Park City. Katrina Chala, for one, said she would take the Colombian spirit of “joy and excitement about life” to the Park City community. Others mentioned teaching the community about the realities of life in Colombia and breaking stereotypes.

Pardo said that many of the students and families she met in Park City associate Colombia with drugs and danger.

“I feel like us being here has shown people that that is not what Colombia is,” she said. “There are lots of good things. There is much more than what people think.”

Each of them agreed that they accomplished that where they could.

Goodman, who is one of the four students going to Bogotá next month, said that her family was nervous about her going before welcoming Manuela Henao into their home.

“There are all of these things that are being said about Colombia that aren’t good things. That is not all that there is,” Goodman said.

Both the Colombian and Park City students said they walked away having had a great experience that changed how they view the world.

“We can fusion together two cultures and learn how to respect and live with the other culture,” Boda said.

“I think it’s nice to keep an open mind and realize we are all the same,” Tracey added. “Even though we come from different places and experience and learn in different ways, we are all still human beings.”

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