Kennedy from a Foreign View


Anna Charaeva presents the flag of Georgia. Photo provided by Charaeva.

Foreign exchange students come to Kennedy High School with a variety of backgrounds. The school has hosted up to five foreign exchange students from around the world for many years.

Anna Charaeva, jr., came to Kennedy for the 2019-2020 school year. Far from her home in Georgia, a country east of the Black Sea, she faces barriers everyday, especially when it comes to making new friends.

“Sometimes, people don’t want to make friends with exchange students because they are afraid of making a close connection and then the exchange student has to leave,” Charaeva said. ”I feel like you should not be afraid… [A friendship] is going to mean a lot to the exchange.”

Neda Mockute, jr., also came to Kennedy for the 2019-2020 school year from Lithuania, a country east of Poland. She finds it difficult to trust those around her.

“You come to another country and at first you feel like it’s kind of hard to trust other people because you don’t know anybody,” Mockute said.

The host family can play a big role in making the exchange students feel welcome. Exchange students appreciate host parents who are ready to learn about the student’s life as well as respect their boundaries. 

“My host family is amazing, beyond amazing, they are awesome. You know [they] helped me a lot to trust other people here,” Mockute said.

This year’s exchange students came through Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) and Youth For Understanding (YFU). These sites have lists of potential exchanges that host families can pick from.

One such host parent is Melissa Zachman. She is hosting Mockute as she finishes her experience here at Kennedy. As a host parent, she gains unique experiences. 

“You don’t learn these experiences from a textbook in a classroom,” Zachman said.