WFISD hosts exchange students on three campuses

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 9:06 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Wichita Falls ISD is back to hosting its foreign exchange student programs, where students are taking classes at Wichita Falls, Hirschi and Rider high schools.

This semester the WFISD has seen a huge increase in the number of exchange students wanting a chance to experience American culture and they come from all over the globe. Felix Aubel is a junior at Wichita Falls High School from Germany.

“How you think about the U.S., most things are from movies like the daily life of high school are movies,” said Aubel. “The school here is easier than in Germany so you have more free time and don’t have to study so much.”

Aubel has been at Wichita Falls High School since August and said he wanted to find out for himself what it’s like being a student in an American high school.

When he’s not in class studying, he’s eating lunch with some of the other 18 exchange students from Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Estonia and Pakistan.

“It’s a lot more than we usually have probably because they couldn’t do it last year. My student Bali, she’s from Slovakia but she didn’t get to do it last year because of COVID so she’s a senior here but still has to go to Slovakia to do her senior year there,” said Debbie Pepper, ESL teacher at Wichita Falls High School.

Last year, not only did closed borders prevent students from having a cultural exchange, the program also saw a lack of host families willing to open their doors to students.

“For this year, I think the only thing that’s really changed is they’re trying to get everybody to be vaccinated the host family and the students,” said Pepper.

Aubel said he’s been vaccinated and couldn’t let the pandemic keep him away from a once in a lifetime experience.

“It’s normal to be scared to be in another country, another language, in another family, but from me all I can say is most things are positive. I have two host moms but I like it -- it’s not a bad thing, they are very cool, we have a good relationship,” said Aubel.

“They’re learning about the culture of the exchange students and exchange students are learning about our culture. We had two exchange daughters for six months a year ago and we still talk to them every Sunday,” said Pepper.

Aubel said he will be headed back home once the semester ends in May, but he plans to return to the U.S. once he has finished school in Germany to work as a politician.

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