Coordinator of experiential learning Steve Shapiro hosted a meeting for families interested in foreign exchange programs on Thursday, Oct. 15 via Zoom.
The meeting was introductory, featuring Bexley alumna Caroline Shapiro, senior Gavin Levine and other students across Columbus who have participated in exchange programs. Over 80 people showed up with questions about foreign exchange, Shapiro said.
Levine and others shared memories from their experiences with exchange and reasons they encourage others to study abroad as well. Shapiro prompted the students with questions so that they would provide detailed information about their exchange programs and the steps leading up to them.
Caroline Shapiro, one of several young adults who spoke during the meeting, said that she wanted to provide information about her experience as an exchange student for current Bexley students. She believes in the value of cross cultural learning and wants to continue to expand Bexley’s involvement in exchange programs through meetings like these, she explained.
“I’ve been exposed to cross cultural learning since a very young age, and without it I wouldn’t have had nearly as rich of an educational experience in my childhood,” Caroline said.
Levine said that he is one of the few students at Bexley who have studied abroad for a full academic year. He added that he attended a vocational school in Taoyuan, Taiwan for his junior year.
“I gained such a deep understanding of the culture of another country, and it’s been one of the most profound learning experiences of my life,” he said.
Levine said his goal is to raise awareness about the possibilities of foreign exchange and how it should be a more mainstream choice for students.
“My hope was to get the word out and show students that exchange is an amazing opportunity for students,” he said. “Exchange is something that you can get a lot out of, and I don’t think many students really know that.”
Levine noted that if it weren’t for a five minute presentation about exchange by another student in his freshman Spanish class, he likely never would have done the program. He encouraged anyone with the slightest interest in exchange to learn more about it.
“When you’re a genuine student at your school in another country, you’re not just a tourist,” he said. “You feel truly embedded in the culture and experience the world from a whole new point of view.”