Exchange Students’ Year Comes to a Close


Violet Pandya, Editor

AFS is a foreign exchange student program that partners with Tosa East to bring exchange students into the Wauwatosa community. This year, five students arrived, coming from Switzerland, Portugal, Finland, and Uruguay.

Many of the students participated in a sport in the fall, as it provided them with an opportunity to meet their classmates before the year started. Malik Joos, a student from Switzerland advised,  “Join a sport in the fall! I joined Cross Country and I have to admit that this was a great decision. It was an easy way to make friends and the practice started a week or two before school started. That was very helpful, because I already knew some people in my classes.” Joos also ended the year running with the track team, where he made even more memories.

While some students joined sports, others joined clubs instead. Pia Olaizola was an avid participant in the Tosa East Players. While explaining why others should join, she explained “You don’t necessarily have to act, there are so many different jobs that involve theater”. Olaizola, a student from Uruguay, mainly loved theater because of the culture, “I can assure you you’ll have the best time and you’ll meet amazing people!”

As part of the program, exchange students still must take many of the required classes, but they also get to choose electives. Selina Raman, a student from Finland said that her one regret would be to take different classes first semester, “because I took AP Chemistry and AP Statistics, and I can say that was not the smartest decision”. However, Raman had more luck with art classes second semester, raving that “My favorite class was Ceramics 1, it was so much fun and the teacher was amazing.”

But starting at a new school is not without its difficulties “My biggest challenge was putting myself out there” said Madalena Sequeira, an exchange student from Portugal. She went on to add that “coming from a country where I knew everyone in my school and had a lot of them since I was a child to a completely different place was hard.” 

Despite these obstacles, students were able to overcome and have an amazing year. When asked to leave any parting words for future East students, the overarching theme was that the exchange was unforgettable, and everyone should get the chance to do one. Nicolau Conim described that being in an exchange program is like “creating a second life, away from everything that we knew and loved.” Conim, a student from Portugal, continued on to explain that “The feelings that I experienced during this year were unlike anything else I’ve ever felt, because it’s such a unique experience.” 

As the year comes to a close, all of Tosa East will surely miss these students, and cannot wait to see what they accomplish in the future.