LT is currently hosting a six exchange students from Brazil, Spain, Germany, and Hungary, NC Associate Principal Kevin Brown said. The students will attend classes at LT until the end of the year and are staying with families who reside in the school district. This is the first time exchange students have studied at LT in a year and a half due to COVID-19.
“I love the idea of welcoming students from other nations here,” Brown said. “I think it may encourage lots of us to see the world.”
Paula Lopes Soares is one of the exchange students studying at LT this year. She is in her junior year at LT and is from Brazil.
“I want to meet and interact with as many people as possible,” Lopes Soares said. “LT is a huge school and I have the opportunity to meet so many different people.”
Due to COVID-19, LT was unable to have any exchange students last school year, Brown said. Exchange students are facing the same obstacles that other LT students face as they return to the classroom.
“When LT classes started, it was the first time I had in-person classes in a year and a half,” Lopes Soares said. “Everything is new, and going back to in-person school in another country includes so many different changes.”
LT is unable to initiate the exchange due to not having a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) number, Brown said. SEVIS numbers are what allow schools to receive, set up, and host exchanges with students in other countries. Without the SEVIS number, families of the students arrange the exchange with an outside agency that the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel has to approve. The SEVIS number is needed on the Visa application and due to LT’s inability to acquire a number, families host the student instead of the school, meaning they house and feed the student.
“Being an exchange student is the best experience of my life, but also the most difficult,” Lopes Soares said. “It’s crazy to think that I agreed to travel to another country, start a new life with another family while going to a school with people that I don’t know, and interacting with everyone in a different language.”
The other five exchange students are Carlos Peret Ramos, Rodrigo Garcia Del Barrio Cervera, Antonia Tschirsch, Patricia Beyer, and Sara Onder. Peret Ramos and Garcia Del Barrio Cervera are from Spain. Tschirsch and Beyer come from Germany, and Onder’s home country is Hungary.