This is the third article in the 2018-19 academic year series ‘Opening our homes and minds: West Hartford’s AFS foreign exchange students and their host families.’
Interviewed and edited by Jamie Cohen, AFS volunteer (now), host sister (1980s) and returnee from Japan (1984)
Meet Purichaya from Thailand, who is called Farida for short. She is one of eight foreign exchange students in West Hartford this school year. She won a prestigious Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (KL-YES) scholarship from the US State Department to study in the U.S. She is there through the AFS program.
Hi, Farida! Tell us about yourself.
I am from Bangkok, Thailand. I am deaf, and my parents in Thailand are deaf. I have an older sister, and a younger brother who are both hearing. I am living here in West Hartford with a deaf family and attending American School for the Deaf. I like dancing, cooking, and playing soccer.
Why did you want to be a KL-YES exchange student?
I was really interested in experiencing a new culture, and I wanted to learn American Sign Language (because in Thailand it’s “Thai Sign Language”). I’d like to go to college in Thailand and teach ASL.
What are the biggest cultural differences between Thailand and here?
In Thailand, people tend to be laid back and stay home, but here, it seems like people are out and about always doing things. I see this in both my host family and with friends at school. Also the food is very different, of course. It’s much spicier in Thailand. I tend to have to adjust with my host family when I cook for them.
What have you liked about Connecticut and West Hartford?
I like the school a lot. There are so many different classes, and I’m able to learn a lot of new things. I like meeting the people, and I really like meeting young children here. It’s the most fun. I take Math, English, Deaf Studies, ASL, Science and Cooking, and Photography.
What do you do outside of school here?
I do a lot of homework 🙂 I play soccer, and then I help my host sister with chores around the house. I like to go shopping and to the mall.
What would you like people reading this to know about:
Thailand: Thailand is beautiful. The beaches and the water are wonderful. We have a very beautiful cultural dance. I think you should all visit 🙂
Hosting an AFS exchange student: It’s exciting because you can share cultures back and forth.
Being an AFS exchange student: It’s a great way to broaden your horizons. You can meet new people, and it’s a great way to meet new people. You should do it if you’re thinking about it!
If you are interested in hosting an exchange student for the 2018-19 school year, or if your high-school aged student would like to participate in an AFS exchange, please contact Jamie Cohen at [email protected] or visit AFSUSA.org.
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