Rotary recognizes exchange students


The Delaware Rotary Club recently recognized two exchange students who have been living in the county this school year.

The students are Prada Dumdoungrom from Bangkok, Thailand, and Fred Kurten from Curitiba, Brazil. Dumdoungrom is in her junior year at Delaware Hayes High School, and Kurten is effectively in his final year of high school at Buckeye Valley High School.

Rotary is also sponsoring Tessa Warren, a local student who is studying in Belgium.

The club explained that students in its exchange program normally have three different host families during the year to “give them several examples of local hospitality,” and the two students were interviewed at the Rotary Club meeting last week.

During the interview, the club learned that Kurten’s aunt visited Mexico in 2014-2015 with Rotary and his father, a Rotary member, suggested he do the exchange program. Dumdoungrom said her sister went to Wyoming five years ago, and she wanted to have “the same experience of American culture.”

Both students speak English, and Kurten said “practice is important” when it came to learning English and recommended reading and watching English language programs, while Dumdoungrom said she was taught English in Thailand from an early age.

Dumdoungrom said she was able to try Ski Club, cross country, and ceramics, and there were “many more school activities than would be available in Thailand.” Kurten said he has participated in men’s choir and the show choir at Buckeye Valley as well as Ski Club and skeet shooting.

Rotary Club members asked them both what is the “most important thing” they’ve learned since coming to America.

“To take advantage of opportunities,” Dumdoungrom said. “You just have to do it. Running track and participating in Key Club are things I have never had a chance to do.”

Kurten’s response was “to talk to people.”

“I am something of an introvert,” Kurten said. “Here I am learning to make new friends and improve my social skills. I feel more confident talking to people now.”

The students also outlined the differences between schools in America and in their home countries.

“There is a bigger choice of classes here. I am enjoying American government for instance,” Kurten said. “While Prada and I are both taking the SAT here, there is no comprehensive test at the end of the year. In Brazil, the school day is 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and then I am done.”

Dumdoungrom said another difference is that in their home countries, students stay in classrooms and the teachers change between periods.

“I have also enjoyed new class opportunities like ceramics and food & nutrition,” Dumdoungrom said. “Overall, there is less pressure. Back at home, no one drives themselves to school.”

They also discussed their favorite foods from America, and Dumdoungrom said hers is taco salad, since she had not eaten Mexican food before.

“It is easy to gain weight here if you are not careful,” she joked. “Typhoon is a little like home.”

Kurten said he has enjoyed fried chicken and the dipping sauce at Raising Cane’s.

Both students’ families are also hosting a Rotary exchange student. Dumdoungrom’s family is hosting a student from Taiwan and hosted a Michigan girl last year. Kurten’s family is hosting girls from Australia, Poland and Japan this year, each for one third of the year.

“Each year, hundreds of American students take advantage of these opportunities,” the Rotary Club reported. “Students must be between the ages of 15-19 when they leave home. Rotary provides six months of training before departure to help with language acquisition and cultural adjustment.”

For more information, contact Rand Guebert at [email protected].

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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