From Suriname to Sunshine Club
Exchange students from Mozambique, Suriname, Indonesia, and Thailand in front of a homecoming sign with their American friend
In the words of Cheraine, "Homecoming week shindigs"—from left to right are Cheraine, Dalva (YES, Mozambique), Afifah (YES, Indonesia), Bam (Thailand), and friend Jalyne

Cheraine getting involved in Indiana

I was in contact with my host family for a few weeks before I came to the U.S. During our conversations, they told me a lot about themselves. On the day of my arrival, they came to get me at the airport and welcomed me into their family with warm hugs and big smiles on their faces. My double placement from Indonesia was also there, and I already had a bond with her before we met each other, because we were also in contact. Since then, I have met more members of the family, and they are so warm and welcoming and treat me as their own.

To be honest, I was super nervous the first day of school, because I didn’t really have any friends yet apart from my host sisters, double placement, and the other exchange students. But as I got used to it, I started to make friends. I joined the Sunshine Club, a club that focuses on community service. I also joined the volleyball team and I love playing. That was a good way to make friends, and all the girls are my friends now as we have bonded as a team. The only thing I’m sad about is that volleyball season is ending soon, and I won’t be able to be with the team every day after school. I’ll also miss all the games and competition, but I might try out for another sport just for the experience. One of the things that I’ll also be missing is the Friday night football games. Right now, I am doing well in all my classes, and I am making new friends almost every day. We also just had our homecoming week, and I enjoyed all dress up days and even got a few roses from my friends and coach.

Not too long ago, we went to Ohio to attend the Renaissance Festival with all the other PAX exchange students in the area. It was a super great experience seeing all the people dressed up and all the scavenger hunts. During that trip, you could see all the diversity. So many countries were together as one, and everyone was just getting along with each other. We even got to have a little taste of snacks from many different countries. Since we were staying overnight, we got placed in a room with other students from different countries, and it was amazing to learn a bit about their countries and just bond and making international friends. My group is planning to meet up someday in the near future, and I'm really looking forward to that.

—Cheraine (YES, Suriname), hosted by the Isch family (IN)