Kerry commends Parkwood for 'public diplomacy'
Parkwood High School received commendation from Secretary of State John Kerry recently for promoting public diplomacy by hosting foreign exchange students.
"Obviously, we're very honored to be acknowledged as a partner in global diplomacy," Principal Stephanie McManus said.
She said they acknowledged that they have partnerships with schools around the world so they can support learning for American students and students from other nations.
Parkwood has hosted many foreign exchange students through the years, McManus said when she worked there as a teacher 20 years there were exchange students. This year, they are host to three foreign exchange students, two from Thailand and one from Pakistan.
Parkwood received a Global Partner School recognition within the UCPS Globalization Program.
"By opening their doors to host exchange students, Parkwood High School is providing all students with opportunities to increase their global awareness and cultural understanding as they continue on the path towards becoming global citizens and the kind of leaders this world needs," Jorge Castro, president of AFS-USA, said in a statement.
McManus said their involvement with foreign exchange students enriches the educational experience for everyone.
"Our students at Parkwood are allowed the opportunity to share in the various cultures that they might not have head the opportunity to learn about," she said. "We're bettered by that because we have the opportunity to learn from someone who has the experience that we don't have."
She said the world has broadened and being able to interact with someone who has the same interests as you, but has the worldview of coming from a different country helps them to see another viewpoint.
She said the foreign students are often thrown by the school schedules, which are different in America than their home country. She said students often have more choices in which classes they take and many comment on that and become excited about it.
She said the process for the exchange students to study abroad is very rigorous. It is a competitive, merit-based application process and students are often already honored to have been selected to be an exchange student.
McManus said they hope to foster their global relationships in the future.
"We feel like it enriches our every day conversations between students and students and teachers and the ongoing atmosphere of learning in our school is enriched by a program that welcomes the diversity in a global setting," she said.
She said it is a "win-win" experience for all of the students and teachers.
"I'm proud of our students for supporting our exchange students and welcoming them and helping them learn," she said.
She said they are very proud to have received the commendation from Kerry and it is a very nice acknowledgment.