Chinese Exchange Student Raises the Bar

Foreign exchange student Lejing Xu has received a wealth of honors from her host school over the course of the past year, and has most recently walked away with a few accolades that have the teachers and families of Grandville, MI beaming over her accomplishments.

Over the course of the last ten months, Lejing has reinvented the standard for academic excellence at host high school, scoring not only a perfect 1600 hundred on her SAT, but becoming the first female student in the history of Grandville High to score a perfect 100% in her AP Calculus class and come in first out of 453 students with a stunning 4.6 GPA. A well disciplined and extremely outgoing student, teachers at Grandville have been quoted saying that Lejing is not only one of the most advanced students in the school, but has also come to be known and loved for her kindness, friendliness, and outgoing personality.

When asked about her experience as a host mother, Sheryl Blair was happy to say that it was one of the best experiences her family has ever had, and that the time they spent with Lejing is something that her family will treasure for many years. “Having Lejing was just phenomenal,” said Blair. “Everyone loves her. She has impacted our lives greatly. She has taught our grandkids to speak Chinese and even to use chopsticks. I know they will never forget her.”

Sheryl said that they were inspired to become host parents when they met Dawn Martinson, the Regional Manager for ISE’s Central Mid West region, at an expo where Dawn had set up her annual booth for promoting the program. “We love working with kids,” said Blair, “so we had tried several times to become a foster family, but for one reason or another it never worked out. Then when we saw Dawn’s info, we thought we would give it a chance. It was a great decision, and the program has been positive beyond our wildest expectations.”

Lejing is described as a very studious and regimented student. In her home country, she attends a boarding school and only comes home for visits on the weekends. She is also a diligent piano player, and often gives recitals at her school. In Michigan, Lejing has played at several benefits where she was able to raise over one thousand dollars and sell over fifty copies of her CD. “She is a tremendous musician. Her playing is more advanced than I have seen for a student her age,” said a local music teacher at Grandville.

The Blair family and Lejing are trying to prepare for her departure, which will take place within the next three weeks. “We are hoping that she will come back and see us again,” said Blair. “She was the best there ever could be.”

Congratulations to Lejing for her accomplishments We at ISE would like to wish the Blairs a happy and safe holiday weekend, and Lejing a safe trip home.

Italian Student Perfects English With Tennis

Silvia-Galimberti-Tennis-PlayerItalian student, Silvia Galimberti, was highlighted in the Virginia Gazette last week for her impressive role in the success of the Jamestown High School tennis team. She is quoted saying that although she enjoys playing tennis, it is not common to find team sports such as tennis offered in Italian schools, and that she enjoys the fact that she can be part of the team in Jamestown.

For Galimberti, playing tennis was a way for her to integrate into her school and improve her English skills. “It was hard in the beginning…they couldn’t understand me, “says Galimberti, “but being on the team helped me get to know people and them to know me.”

Since the initial obstacles, Galimberti has become an indispensible member of the team, becoming proficient in her strokes and boosting morale for the team overall. Her American teammates have been quoted as saying that it gives them great pride “when [they] hear her Italian voice cheering” them on.

Galimerti says that she plans to keep playing when she gets back to Italy, but that there is still a lot she wants to see before she returns home.


Minnesota Gives Back

At the end of this month we will once again be saying goodbye to many of our students. The majority of the participants in the J-1 program, a study and travel visa program and the largest of the programs offered by ISE, follow the traditional public school schedule which runs from September to May. With slight variations on either side of the end date, the majority of those students studying on a J-1 visa will have returned home by the 31st of May.


The end of the school year is symbolic for many reasons. It is a time for reflection, and liberation, and in many ways it marks the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another. Some students look ahead to the coming summer months and a long rest, while some are looking toward the beginning of a new adventure and exploration of their future as grown men and women. For some this epochal moment can be daunting, but especially in the case of exchange students it means saying goodbye to a family they have come to know and love, and preparing to reenter their former lives in their home country.


At a time when there is such a broad and imminent change on the horizon and there is so much to prepare for, you might expect our young exchange students to be shifting their focus from the goals of the program to their future endeavors. But the impending changes did not stop a group of students in Clarissa, MN from trying to give back to their community before departing.


Led by their Regional Manager and officials from their local high school, Diego Verreth, from Belgium; Seda Duru, from Germany; Larissa Carneiro, from Brazil, and several students from other organizations hosted a Information Night, during which they shared food, stories, and experiences from their respective home countries with people from the community. The event was open to all those who wished to attend, and, in accordance with our program’s goals of offering service and help to the hosting community, open donations were accepted which were turned over to a local food pantry.


The truly amazing part of the whole experience was the way in which each student adopted a special facet of their native culture to share with their regional citizens, and the fact that each and every one of these student will be returning home within the next few weeks.


To Larissa, Seda, and Diego, ISE appreciates your honorable achievements and wishes you all a safe trip home. We expect to hear from and about you in the near future, because bright ambitious students promise to fill the future with stunning accomplishments. We wish you luck!