Students at a Rochester area school are learning that they have a lot in common with the foreign exchange students they're hosting.
The Spanish class at Allendale Columbia welcomed foreign exchange students from Harkness Institute in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The group spent a week in each other’s company.
“People here, I would say manners are different than where I come from,” said Victoria Samayoa, a senior from Mexico. “For example, when I came in…well, in my country you say ‘hi’ by kissing the cheek and people were like, (pulls away, laughing)"
The exchange trip is part of the school's Center for Global Engagement.
“I think it's a change of pace for me because they're different than all my friends,” said Jaina Dinino, a senior at AC. “But it's a good different."
Sometimes, discussing your differences means finding common ground.
Ty Lougher, the school’s director of global engagement, says it’s important to for students to learn from their neighbors, even if they’re thousands of miles away.
The Rochester students stepped into the shoes of their neighbors and vice versa. Sometimes the fit, and the discussions, were not always comfortable.
“Immigration, I wouldn't say it's a problem, but it's a huge thing,” said Samayoa. “There are people from everywhere coming here because life is great here. So why wouldn't they?"
“More than anything, I feel there has been a disconnect between Mexicans and Americans,” said Josh Pope, a dual Mexican-American citizen who is a senior at Harkness. “There is tension between them, and for it to be solved, I think there has to be unity between them."
A common message of the discussion was finding common ground by setting differences aside.
“We can learn from them. They can learn from us,” said Lougher. “We can't solve the world's problems unless we communicate and reach around the world."