It’s a Small World After All


Calley Baxter, Senior Staff Writer

This year Hubbard High School welcomes three new foreign exchange students.  Two of three, Nayab Sadruddin and Sharib Usman came to America through a program called the Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program. “The program was founded after 9/11 to better our cultural understanding with other nations,” explained Nayab, the Pakistani exchange student. The third foreign student, Kateryna Bendak, came through FLEX, or Future Leaders Exchange program. The FLEX program is very competitive, and the selective few who are chosen receive their trip to America free. Kateryna tried once before, but did not get selected. On her second attempt, she was chosen and states that she is “very proud of the accomplishment,” which she should be.  Each foreign exchange student came from a different country, and is enjoying getting to live life like an American.

Nayab Sadruddin comes from Pakistan. Since most American students may know very little about this country, I asked Nayab to share something about her country she would like Americans to know. “I’m a Muslim, and people see terrorism and conflict when they look at my country, but that’s not what it’s all about. Beauty is everywhere, in the way we dress, and in the people of our country,” exclaimed Nayab proudly.  Nayab was very excited when she found out she would get to come to America, and so were her parents. “I always wanted to study abroad, to better my education and to learn about American culture. My parents were just as excited as I was about my coming to America,” Nayab exclaimed. Each foreign exchange student is placed with a host family while in America; Nayab and Kateryna were placed with the same host family. Now Nayab not only gets to learn about America, but also about the Ukraine from Kateryna.

Kateryna Bendak comes from the Ukraine. “In the FLEX program, our main goal is to exchange culture, which is why I’ve always wanted to participate,” states Kate. Hubbard High is very different compared to Kate’s school back home. “At my school we start at 8 in the morning, and have 45 minute lessons with longer breaks in between. We also have the same teachers for every subject throughout our school years,” explained Kate. Kate studies about 17 subjects a year, and started learning English at a very young age. Another difference, she explained, is that American cars are much more expensive in Ukraine, since they have to be shipped there. “Besides our small differences, America and Ukraine are more alike than one may think,” Kate said.

Sharib Usman is from the Philippines. “I wanted to come to America to experience cultural learning, and just learn about America in general,” Sharib shared on his decision to study abroad.  In the Philippines students study each country in the world, and this exposure helped prepare Sharib decide to come to America.  Sharib also has a much longer school day back home, with classes starting at 7:30 and ending around 4:30-5:30. The Philippines are multicultural and diverse, just like America.  America is often known as the ‘Melting Pot’ because of this diversity.  Similarly, the Philippines also has a nickname, ‘Pearl of the Orient Seas’.  Sharib explained that this name is reflective of his country because they are known for their abundance of pearls.  However, pearls aren’t the only thing that makes the Phillippines special, “People in my country are very hospitable and giving even though they don’t have a lot to give,” said Sharib.

As the year continues, the three foreign exchange students will continue learning all about American culture. Host families play a big role in their lives here, and each student described them as kind and very generous. I encourage the rest of Hubbard High to talk with these students to exchange cultures, you’ll learn a lot!