Graduation Season Underway: International Student Exchange Celebrates Student Achievements

For many American families, one of the most rewarding aspects of the International Student Exchange’s J-1 program is being able to assist a student with big dreams realize his or her goals. Providing opportunities, offering guidance, and being there for the important milestones in a foreign son or daughter’s life is what draws people to the J-1 program, and the reward of watching that son or daughter succeed is what inspires these families to continue hosting year after year.


At no time is this more important or relevant than during graduation season, a traditional American epoch that brings families, communities and educators together in celebration. It is a time for commendation, recollection, and togetherness, and a proud moment in any parent’s life. Without undermining the achievements of our American students, what sets the exchange program apart is the journey undertaken by the parents and students who participate. Imagine the stories that will be shared once the student returns home to tell his or her friends and family about all the wonderful things that were experienced while living in the U.S., and imagine the happy memories that will be shared by the hosts that made it possible.GraduationPhoto123

In this year alone, International Student Exchange has seen students inducted into the National Honor Society, has helped students contribute thousands upon thousands of service hours to their respective communities, and has has witnessed students advance the cultural capital of our nation by providing insight into the ways that the differing nations of the world live, work, and learn. These efforts not only advance diplomacy and the image of the U.S. in the international community, they prove a immutable fact of human existence: we want to learn from one another, we want to help as many people as we can, and we want peace in our lifetimes for all nations of the world.

Departure may loom in the foreseeable future, but the families and students of ISE are in high spirits, sharing their stories, enjoying their time together, and planning for a future where each will be a part of the other’s life. With each student who takes that promising walk through commencement, who works to achieve his or her academic goals, and who brings a eclectic and engaging culture to the classroom, America becomes a stronger nation.


Student Ties for Fist Prize in Natoma Art Competion

Kicking off what promises to be another stellar year for International Student Exchange, Chinese student Xinyi Chen tied for first palce in the Clothes Line Art Fair at Natoma High School in Russell County, Kansas. Sharing her title with local student Taylor Baxley, the two tied for first place with their entry to the competiton’s “Americans at Work” theme.

Xinyi and Laura were granted their award by Natoma library board vice president Mary Murphy, and the Amercian Legion Auxillary president, Laah Tucker. ISE would like to thank these esteemed women for honoring our students, and our student for honoring her country and ours.

Paulina Vargas of Mexico Named Prom Queen at New Castle High

Mexican exchange student Paulina Vargas Sobrado was recently named this year’s prom queen at New Castle High School in New Castle, Indiana. As an exchange student, Vargas said that she was amazed to be given the title. She also said that she received several pleasant calls from excited family members back in Mexico for explanations of the title’s meaning, as they do not generally elect “kings” and “queens” of the prom in her Mexican hometown.


Lyndsey Davis, Paulina’s Economics teacher at New Castle High, was happy to see Paulina bestowed such a tremendous honor, and is quoted stating that in league with this regal accomplishment, Pauline is also an exceptional student, one that has achieved much and made positive relationships at their school.

“Pauline has really immersed herself in our culture,” says Davis. “She made the tennis team, does excellent work in school, and in our economics class she is able to offer dynamic perspectives into the differences between the American and Mexican economic systems.” When asked about Paulina’s relationship with the faculty and students at New Castle, Davis responded by saying, “Paulina is one of the most popular students. She is very well liked. Everyone knows Paulina. She is really a topnotch student.”


Paulina will only be with us for another few short weeks, but it is clear that Paulina has made the absolute most of her time here, and we will be sad to see her go. Congratulations Paulina! We wish you safe trip home and much success in your bright future.


Czech Student Wins First Prize in Video Contest

International Student Exchange would like to congratulate Jan “Jesse” Pitela, a student from Czech Republic who recently took home first prize in Frederick’s Supermarket of Cars High School Commercial Contest. With the help of his academic advisor, Ray Clements, Jesse designed a commercial entitled “Fuel Efficiency,” which highlights the fuel economy features of several new automobiles created by Chevrolet.

Each winner took home a new iPad for himself, and shared the reward of a car which was donated to Annville-Cleona High in Pennsylvania. Jesse was also granted the opportunity to work with professional designers and visual arts studios to bring his vision to life. As an experienced visual artist, Jesse was happy to get back into working with the video medium, and is quoted in the local Lebanon Daily News saying “I thought [the contest] was a nice opportunity to make something again. I really liked the experience. It was kind of like working for a client, even though it was a competition.”

Ray Clements was happy to help Jesse along the way and afterwards to share his admiration for a young man with such talent and ambition. To date Jesse has dozens of videos on YouTube and a following of almost 2 million viewers. Some of his stunning works include several slow motion action scenes and fan fiction clips of films such as The Matrix, and Inception.

A truly talented young artist, Jesse has honored his school, his country, and International Student Exchange with his recent victory. Take some time to view his multitude of videos at YouTube/jessepitela.


Exchange Students Go All-State

>International Student Exchange would like to extend a thank you and congratulations to Sampsa Isahatala and Luis Trinidade from the South West region for their success on the Panthers football team at Yellville Summit High school in Arkansas. Both students have received a praiseworthy mention for their performance on the football team this year, honoring their coaches, host families, natural families, and of course International Student Exchange with their achievements. Sampsa was awarded 1st Team All-Conference, and Luis was awarded 2nd Team All-Conference, both high regards for any student athlete, but somewhat more notable in this case as neither student has ever played American football before coming to the United States.

To Sampsa and Luis, ISE salutes and congratulates your achievement, and we wish you a successful and happy remainder of the year with your host family and school.

Exchange Student Wins First Prize in Sidewalk Art Competition

International Student Exchange would like to congraulate Chinese exchange student, Tianhua Yang, for winning first prize in the Gesso Italiano (Italian Chalk) Competiton for his rendition of “Michaelangelo’s Bust of David With Butterflies.” The 2011 competition drew over 180 artists from all over the country, including many students from San Diego and surrounding cities. Winning in the division for “Best Educational Team,” Yang not only took home the satisfaction of a job well done, but a small cash prize as well. Below are photos of his stunningly vivid portrait.