Exchange program fosters lifelong connections

Staples+participated+in+an+exchange+program+from+Dec.+2-15.+The+Saxon+family+hosted+two+students+from+the+Hwa+Chong+institute+in+Singapore.+

Contributed by Jiaheng

Staples participated in an exchange program from Dec. 2-15. The Saxon family hosted two students from the Hwa Chong institute in Singapore.

Marina Engler '21, Staff Writer

A group of 19 students from Hwa Chong Institution in Singapore recently concluded a two-week stay in America.

For the duration of the stay from Dec. 2-15, each student was assigned a host family from Staples. 

“[The main role of a host family is] to be available to provide transportation, some meals, accommodation in your home, and be willing to expose the students to local social and cultural opportunities,” Principal Stafford Thomas said in an email sent out to all Staples parents and students. 

Emma Saxon ’21 and her family jumped at the opportunity to host Singapore students this year after she saw flyers all around the school promoting the program last year. 

“My brother speaks Mandarin and I always thought it would be fun to have exchange students come over, and how interesting it would be to see the difference in their lifestyle compared to ours,” Saxon said. 

In an effort to make the Singapore students more comfortable, it was recommended that each family host two students. The Saxon family hosted both Jerome and Jiaheng.

Many of the students on the trip had never been to America before and were not sure what to expect.  

“Prior to the trip, I regarded America to be a liberal country with a kaleidoscope of cultures,” Jiaheng said. “After spending 2 weeks in America, I can safely conclude that the reality was not only in line with my expectations but also proved to be even more than what I had expected. Americans were generally extremely friendly and welcoming, with an eagerness to strike up conversations in order to get to know us better.”

After spending 2 weeks in America, I can safely conclude that the reality was not only in line with my expectations but also proved to be even more than what I had expected. Americans were generally extremely friendly and welcoming, with an eagerness to strike up conversations in order to get to know us better.”

— Singapore student, Jiaheng

The students were able to shadow their host families through a typical day at Staples. However, when the students from Hwa Chong Institute were not at Staples they were taking various trips to places such as Yale University.

Jiaheng describes the trip as a once in a lifetime opportunity that he wishes his friends will have the chance to experience as well in the future. 

“I am so grateful to be able to forge new bonds with my buddies and other students at Staples and I hope these meaningful friendships will last a lifetime,” Jiaheng said. “While we can always visit the various tourist attractions again in the future, the experience of staying with host families and partaking in lessons at Staples will be the most unforgettable experience of my life.”