ISA sophomore Clark Stevens, his little brother and their mother, Creative Writing teacher Amy Stengel, all waited at the airport for the United Air Flight #6502 to come in at around 4 a.m, with 17 other families.
Assistant principal Christian Stafford checked in with each family and greeted all the Korean exchange students, who’d be staying in San Antonio from Sunday Jan. 12 to Monday Jan. 20.
(courtesy of Clark Stevens and Amy Stengel) [from left] Lee, Blake Stevens (youngest son of Amy Stengel, younger brother of Stevens), Stevens and Seo.
I.S.A has hosted exchange students from China, Japan, Central America and other places, and this year was the second year for a Korean exchange. This is also the first time ISA sent students to Korea.
“Our students will travel to Gwang-ju, South Korea over Spring Break with two teachers – Mrs. (Mare) Stewart and Mr. (Luke) Freeman,” Stafford said.
Sung Deok High School in Gwang-ju, South Korea, was the school to exchange with ISA. Two of the Korean students, Geonyoun Seo and Ikjae Lee, both 17-year-olds, stayed with Stevens and Stengel.
“I heard about hosting the exchange students, so I asked my mom and she looked into for it me,” Stevens said.
Students who want to be a host family must fill out an application. Applications are taken seriously and the answers are looked at by the coordinator; this year was Stafford for Japanese and Korean. Korean students brought gifts to their host families, since it is custom for Koreans to bring gifts.
ISA Principal Kathy Beiser is the coordinator for the Chinese and Ms. Moore was the coordinator for the Central Americans.
Based on the answers, Stafford looked at each applicant to see if the family were a good fit for the applicants in Korea.
“Clark loves Oreos, Oreo anything and they [Lee and Seo] brought Clark a Korean Oreo cookie cereal that is only sold in Korea, but is made by Oreo in Korea,” Stengel said. “That is just an example of how closely they looked at the application, and they knew we had dogs and fish,”
Lee and Seo stayed in Steven’s room, while he slept on the couch. Since Steven plays baseball, he taught the boys how to play and took them skateboarding, as well.
“It’s [America] very different because my school starts at 7:50 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m.,” Lee said. “On the weekends, we can play soccer and other things. Their [Steven’s] house is bigger and [they] have two dogs. I love [the] two dogs. The American food is salty and sweet, too sweet for me [because] Korea [is] just spicy.”
Lee has also been in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas all in one week, before coming to San Antonio.
(courtesy of Clark Stevens and Amy Stengel) [from left] Lee, Blake Stevens (youngest son of Stengel, youngest brother of Stevens), Stevens and Seo.
“I think [it’s a] very good thing for the student [to travel and be in the exchange program],” Lee said.
After being picked up from the airport, the Korean exchange students and their host families went back home to unpack and get settled in. On Monday, Jan. 13, the exchange students were taken to school and had a Welcome Ceremony during first period and then shadowed their hosts from second to fourth and sixth to eighth periods, with an “American” buffet during fifth period.
Tuesday, Jan. 14 – the Korean students went back to school again, but left at 9:15 a.m. to visit The Institution of Texan Cultures and the City Council Chambers. Mark Henderson and Sherry Shahrzad greeted them, as well as City Councilwoman, Ivy Taylor. They were then led the President and Vice President of Korean American Society who took them on a tour of the Cathedral. Lunch took place at the Alamo and then came back to school, to shadow their hosts from to 2 p.m. until school got out.
Wednesday, Jan. 15 – the exchange students had a tour at Trinity University and later had “Technology Play Time” when they arrived back at school, in Lab 212, to record their experience. They also had a pizza dinner before the San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz basketball game. Later on that evening, they went to the Courtside Experience at the AT&T Center and watched the game and finally, were picked up by their host families to go home.
Thursday, Jan 16 – the exchange students traveled to Houston, TX to visit the Space Center (NASA) for the majority of their day. On the way back to San Antonio, they stopped at Buccee’s.
Friday, Jan 17 – in Marie Stewart’s class, the exchange students attended Cultural Exchange Day. Stewart also made arrangements for a Korean Food truck to come for the ISA and Korean students to enjoy during sixth through eighth periods. A dodgeball tournament was scheduled that day after school and the exchange students had the option of attending or not.
Saturday and Sunday, Jan 18 and 19 – the exchange students and their hosts families spent the weekend together. On Sunday, the host families had a “farewell” party for their Korean friends at one of the families homes (Compton).
Monday, Jan. 20 – at 4:30 a.m., the host families dropped off the exchange students at the airport and waited for the United Air flight #6435 to arrive and depart.
“Last week, we had a delegation of students from Central America and we’ll be having Japanese students Feb. 8 through the 17 and Chinese students from Feb. 10 through the 14,” Stafford said. “We’ll be sending about 15 students to Korea for Spring Break.”