Students come from across the seas for foreign exchange program


Lau, Roxanne

Antonio, Tobi , Tanadon, and Brooke enjoy the World of Coca-Cola.

Thuy Pham, Editor in Chief of Design

“The first barrier was the language. I felt insecure.” These are the words of Tobi from Germany, one of five foreign exchange students enrolled at Parkview High School. As a participant of the PAX (Program for Academic Exchange) in the 2017-2018 school year, Tobi embodies the cross-cultural learning experience along with Katharina from Germany, Tata and Tanadon from Thailand, and Antonio from Italy.


PAX is a foreign exchange program that offers high school students the opportunity to travel the world and share their customs, language, and cultural knowledge with their host families. With over 1,000 participants in over 70 countries, the organization enables students to immerse themselves in culturally diverse settings, embrace differences, and create lifelong bonds. As on the few programs approved by the US Department of State to place Merit Scholar students, PAX has continued to help increase the community’s awareness of cultural differences and similarities. “We want to enlarge people’s view of the world,” said Roxanne Lau, PAX Regional Manager for Georgia and South Carolina.

As a participant in the PAX program, Parkview High School has welcomed five PAX students to its classrooms annually for the opportunity to engage in cultural diversity and interact with international peers for the past twenty years. For Gwinnett County, GCPS only allows five exchange students per high school and not more than 2 students from the same country. The application process for PAX included an application and interview for CORE students by the agency in their home country. The students are then reviewed based on their English proficiency, grades, recommendation, comprehensive health records, and immunizations, etc. Despite the lengthy and exhausting process, the students are thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. “I really like that you have so many choices here,” said Tobi, “people want to help you if you just politely ask them.”

PAX works hard to match students with the right host families in the country of their choice to ensure their students gain a unique, richer, and multi-view perspective of new cultures. However, despite the program’s efforts, not enough families to host foreign exchange students. “Most often, there aren’t enough host families willing to open their homes and hearts to the opportunity,” said Lau. For more information about hosting an exchange student, please contact Roxanne Lau at [email protected] or 678 886-1503.

Overall, the PAX provides students with learning opportunities and enables them to create memories with their host families and friends. Tobi, Katharina, Tata, Tanadon, and Antonio have all celebrate Christmas traditions with foreign college students studying in the USA, attend city council meetings to learn how local government works, experience volunteerism, and tour the different attractions. The students have visited Orlando, Florida, Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke museum, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and the Varsity. All the students have gained an appreciation for the experience of studying in the United State and the values implemented by the diverse culture.