Each year at Blake, there are always foreign exchange students that are an enormous, important part of the Blake community. The Blake School, being partners with Assist for five years, has often led to this exchange of students every year. Assist is a non-profit international and cultural exchange program that creates opportunities for scholars all around the world by allowing them to attend and to contribute to some of America’s best “independent schools” to promote “mutual understanding”, “cultural interchange”, and “global citizenship”. This interchange usually lasts from one semester up to one year. An important part in this program is knowing where the student is coming from/going to. “I indicate preferences for countries, but I don’t always get what I want,” said Dion Crushshon, manager of this program of exchange students at Blake.
The second most important part in this organization is clearly knowing the background of the students: their strong suits in academics/athletics, their weaknesses, etc. “The great thing about Assist is that the students are really strong students so we know that they are going to come well-prepared and likely to do well,” added Dion. However, in addition to the Assist program, there are always a few international students who come to Blake via admissions, separate from exchange programs like Assist.
This year, Blake is welcoming four foreign exchange students, each coming to Blake for a similar reason: to a experience a new way of life by introducing oneself to the new educational and cultural reference in a new nation. Sixtine Dufour ’14 came to Blake, while applying through Assist and having French-American connections living here, to figure out her future goals. Sixtine stated, “Last year, I graduated from high school in France and now I don’t know what I want to study in the university. I thought it was a great experience and opportunity to do a program here in the United States in order like to improve my English and to need more time to think about my future.” The difference in the educational system/program (i.e. subject courses, number of students per grade, etc.) is massive in comparison. Yet, as many of this year’s exchange students have stated, there are so many new places to discover, so many new ideas to learn, and so many new people to meet that the struggles are forgotten.