Exchanging cultures


Photo by Mrs. Esther Stephenson

Cathedral Catholic High School spanish students and the Argentinian exchange students pose for a picture on their first day visiting CCHS. The exchange students will spend one month at CCHS before moving on to the next city on their trip.

Jessica Nava, Multimedia Editor

When Argentinian exchange student Nahuel Fidemi first set foot on Cathedral Catholic High School’s campus, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Coming to this school I was so surprised,” Fidemi said. “I never imagined this school in my mind. It’s like a movie.”

Currently in its seventh year, the CCHS Argentinian Exchange Program hosts students from Instituto Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves, a Catholic school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Argentinian students stay with CCHS families, who volunteer to provide housing for them.

“This program was an option at school,” Fidemi said. “We could come to take this trip for a few months and hopefully develop English skills while also learning about U.S. culture. When they told us the trip was going to be in the United States, I knew I wanted to go.”

The students visiting CCHS is a part of a larger group of 58 students, spread out over different cities in the United States. After a month at CCHS, they will visit other places including New York, San Francisco, and Miami.

The students go sightseeing and visit some of the most important universities like Stanford University and Harvard University, Argentinian program chaperone Miss Ursula Urbancic said.

The students have enrolled in English classes since primary school, but in order to be properly prepared, they stayed after school twice a week to practice. As the group’s chaperone, Miss Urbancic expresses its main focus is to ensure the students improve their English and learning about American culture.

“I think this is a huge experience for them because this [program] is something that I think not a lot of schools in Argentina do,” Miss Urbancic said. “Not only that, but they also gain more experience like living with a family you don’t know, coming to a school you don’t know, and being in a culture that you only know because of the movies. However, actually experiencing it is difficult, and hopefully they can live here in the next few years.”

When coming to the United States, exchange student Juan Piscitelli emphasizes one of the hardest challenges is to adapt to an entirely new lifestyle.

“Argentina is five hours ahead, so when it was time to eat and sleep it was earlier than normal,” Piscitelli said. “It was very difficult in the beginning but now I am used to it.”

The exchange students leave CCHS Feb. 7 and will continue to visit other U.S. cities until the beginning of their school year in March.

“I miss my family and friends a lot because it is not the same without them,” Fidemi said. “I am very thankful for the exchange program and all of the new experiences that come with it.”