Going to Lake Shore is a global experience

By: Kristyne E. Demske, | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 10, 2017

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Around the world in 80 days? How about five hours?

Lake Shore Public Schools students got to mingle with students from Spain, Germany and China during a recent International Summit at the high school Oct. 3, learning about cultures, languages and working together to solve problems.

At the same time that students from Germany and Spain are staying with host families in Lake Shore Public Schools for two weeks, the district is hosting 78 students from China who are spending the year studying in the district while living at the Taylor International School, which includes a dormitory. So district officials brought together students from all three countries, plus local Lake Shore students, for an International Summit where they could learn from each other.

 From left, Spanish student Manuel Herrera, Masonic Elementary fifth-grader Devin Headd, Kennedy Middle School eighth-grader Ian Rafferty, Lake Shore High School junior Jayda Rosenbrook, Chinese student Sally Zhen Hongyu and German student Charlotte Eggers work on the Marshmallow Challenge during the International Summit Oct. 3.

From left, Spanish student Manuel Herrera, Masonic Elementary fifth-grader Devin Headd, Kennedy Middle School eighth-grader Ian Rafferty, Lake Shore High School junior Jayda Rosenbrook, Chinese student Sally Zhen Hongyu and German student Charlotte Eggers work on the Marshmallow Challenge during the International Summit Oct. 3.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

“It’s really cool. We’ve got all these countries together,” said Karen Jones, international program coordinator for Lake Shore. 

Playing host to students around the world “brings diversity in and gets our kids ready for the global market,” she said. Lake Shore students also get the opportunity to experience foreign cultures when they participate in an exchange program in Germany or Spain. 

Students from the three different countries were also visiting Kennedy Middle School and the district’s elementary schools while they were in town.

At the International Summit, students shared their languages with each other, pulled up favorite songs from home on YouTube, shared slang and gestures from their home countries, and talked about their country’s government and their plans for the future. Then the students worked in teams to build a tower out of household objects to support a marshmallow, competing to see who could make the highest structure; showed off popular dances; enjoyed food from different countries during lunch; and painted rocks together.

The foreign students said they were enjoying their visit to the United States, where they noticed differences from their home countries.

“School is shorter and the environment here is really good,” said Daniel Xu Zijun, 16, from Beijing, China. “The air is really good. In winter (in Beijing), there is a lot of pollution and a lot of smog.”

“I really like the school here. I like the thrift shops,” said Julia Grassold, 16, from Germany. 

She said she appreciated learning about China and Spain, as well, through the daylong summit.

“I didn’t know that in China they had to stay in school so long,” she said. 

Javier Fernandez Laca, a 16-year-old from Spain, said he really wanted to come to the United States because he hopes to travel back here and around the world when he is older. He said he really likes the school and the cars in the U.S.

“I want to see other cultures,” he said. 

This is the fourth time that Andrew Jankowski, of Germany, has brought his students to Lake Shore Public Schools for an exchange. 

“The intercultural experience, and also the language,” are the reasons his students want to come visit the U.S., he said. “Being able to use (English) in a real-world environment is important. It’s a very popular program.”

Lake Shore teachers and staff also participated in the summit. Kennedy Middle School resource room teacher Loretta Livernois said she was excited to speak with some of the students from other countries because of the great experience her daughter had living for a year in Germany.

“This is very interesting to me, learning about different cultures,” she said. 

The summit also included students from the district’s elementary schools and Kennedy Middle School. Madison Perkowski, 10, a fifth-grader at Rodgers Elementary School, said she appreciated the experience.

“I want to learn about different countries and how they live,” she said. “They don’t have a lot of the stuff that we have.” 

“For us, it’s incredible,” said Juan Miguel Dominguez, a teacher from Spain. He said getting to know American culture has shown him and his students that there is a bit of a “cultural clash” between Spain and the United States, “but we can get the best things from each culture.”

This was Dominguez’s first time in the country, and he said it was “pretty amazing” that his young students were getting the experience so early in their lives.

Emma Zhengjia Zhnang, a teacher from China, agreed that learning to communicate with people from other cultures is a prime reason for her students’ year in St. Clair Shores.

“They like to be here because they want to go to university in America,” she said, explaining that they feel it is better to learn about American culture before heading to college.