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International students share with Hallettsville Sacred Heart peers

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Nov. 15, 2010 at 5:15 a.m.

Marta Matsyuk, 16, of Ukraine, tells a group of Sacred Heart Catholic School students about her country. Marta and more than 20 other students took part in International Education Day at the Hallettsville school on Monday.

HALLETTSVILLE - Adrienne Klimitchek giggled, struggled, laughed, sat straighter, then gave up as she tried to use chopsticks for the first time.

Overseeing her efforts was Machi Yamashita, a 16-year-old student from Japan, attending school in San Antonio, who moments earlier expertly utilized the utensils.

"It's very hard," Adrienne said. "I don't know how she did that."

Machi was one of two dozen international students from 19 countries taking part in International Education Day at Sacred Heart in Hallettsville on Monday.

Adrienne, a 16-year-old sophomore at the Hallettsville school, appreciated the students' visit.

"We don't always get a chance to see so many different cultures at one time, especially kids our age," she said. "They go through so many different things than we do. It's interesting."

In talking about Japan, Machi said she spends about an hour and a half getting to and from school by bicycle and by train.

"I was surprised when I came here that many high school students use their own cars to go to school," she said. Driving to school isn't allowed in Japan where a driver's license isn't issued until 18.

The international students, split into eight groups, moved from classroom to classroom telling the Texas students about their countries and cultures.

They all attend high school in South Texas.

"They go to the regular high school and live with host families," said Connie Coutu, regional manager for Academic Year in the U.S.A., global youth exchange.

"They had dinner with the youth group Sunday night and they stayed with various families. So it was also a good experience for the families," said Ana Henke, Sacred Heart counselor who helped arrange the students' visit.

This was the second year for the international students to visit Sacred Heart.

"It's extremely important for students, especially coming from a small community, to interact with people from different countries," said principal David Smolik. "It's an opportunity to learn about the different cultures and learn to appreciate how they live."

Smolik hosted seven of the international students Sunday night.

"They were all from different countries. It was amazing how they interacted positively with each other," he said.

Machi, who goes to school in San Antonio, said her favorite food in Texas is tacos.

Chopsticks not included.

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