Small town gets a big serving of diversity

NEWCOMB The 2008 academic year marks Newcomb Central Schools second year as a member of the Youth for Understanding international student program. They have hosted students from a total of ten foreign countries and there is no evidence of them slowing down now. As part of a new initiative this year, YFU has coupled its efforts with a program designed by the State Department, which is dedicated to reaching out to students in Muslim countries who are interested in an American education. Both programs have joined forces to bring five international students to the homes of Newcomb residents and the halls of NCS. Angela Kim, Sarab Shada, Irina Odermatt, Promith Rahman and Rowan Srour have left their homes in South Korea, Iraq, Switzerland, Bangladesh and Israel to attend high school in the United States at NCS. All of these sophomores, juniors and seniors have now settled into their community host homes, memorized their class schedules and some have joined the Minerva-Newcomb Mountaineers on the soccer field. Last year, Superintendent Clark Skip Hults introduced the international program by enrolling the first group of students at Newcomb. He did so with hopes of rooting a program that would enrich the academic and cultural education of both the new and local students. These first two years have assumed the role of a test run to explore whether a program such as this will work in a place like Newcomb. A common misconception of small-town schooling is that students are not exposed to melting-pot America and miss out on necessary interaction with other cultures. The international program at NCS proves that diversity can still be found in the smallest of places. This years students have brought with them differing religious views, varying skin colors, unfamiliar traditions and their own cultural norms, giving Newcomb students a first-hand look into situations that they will undoubtedly encounter once they leave their small town. This program helps to both prepare our students for college life and a global community, Hults said. Concern has been voiced as to whether Newcomb is tThis year marks Newcomb Centrals second year of participation in the Youth for Understanding international student program. The school is hosting five students for the 2008/2009 year and the program appears to be the start of a viable future initiative for the district. he right place for international students to attend school, in that its size may not be an accurate reflection of mainstream America. Hults sincerely reveals that, The truth is, this is America. He upholds that towns scattered across the United States like Newcomb are the best representation of America that these students could find. The international students were well aware of the kind of place that Newcomb is and have now experienced, first hand, that there is much more to America than New York City or Los Angeles. Both the host families and NCS students have eagerly welcomed the international students with enthusiasm and compassion. Junior, Jesse Montanye commented, I learn more about global issues by talking with the international students than I do by reading the papers or watching the news. Opinions from primary sources have been enlightening for the students and the faculty of NCS. The overall student attitude towards the program mirrors that of Montanyes, as an overwhelming percentage of NCS students speak positively of sharing a classroom with their international peers. It is evident that the program is running smoothly and is proving to be a success, which begs the question of what the future holds for NCSs relationship with the international students programs. The NCS Board of Education and Superintendent are exploring serious ideas for making the international program a permanent feature of the school. Hults revealed that their long-term vision includes the building of residence halls to house both international and urban students, who will attend classes at NCS. Such plans promise to continue the enrichment of Newcombs cultural experience and to stabilize an often shaky enrollment rate.

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