From 43 different states and 47 different countries, the student body at Exeter’s 98th Summer School seems to be more assorted than ever.
Difficulty understanding people from other parts of the world is common and destined to transpire with so much diversity. Names are difficult to remember and pronounce, and everyone speaks his/her respective language with people who are also from their part of the world. Often it seems as if all the Greek kids hang out with the Greek kids, the Turkish kids with the Turkish, the Venezuelan with the Venezuelan, and so forth. Even worse, English is a language that varies in how it’s spoken; thus there are dozens of different accents that can make it more difficult for students to understand one another. But when further looked into, a lot more actually transpires at Summer School than meets the eye.
Regardless of your race, nationality or hometown, one thing is guaranteed for you at Summer School: a kind and generous ambiance. Whether you’re crossing the famous Front St. or walking anywhere else, you can expect cars to kindly stop to give you a chance to cross the street—an act that happens once in a blue moon in most US cities and European countries. If you are rushing to grab some breakfast before class or just stopping by The Grill to distract yourself from that essay that’s due and need some company to join you, you can bet someone will invite you to join him/her for dinner. Regardless of where you’re from—and regardless of the occasion—acts of kindness here at Exeter are bound to lighten up your summer.
The culture at Summer School revolves around the speaking of dozens of languages. It’s the type of thing that makes you wish you were a polyglot who could converse with everyone in their native tongue. Most people might have not even known some of the languages spoken here existed. Moreover, it makes you wonder how many English-speaking schools exist in foreign countries.
Although students come from English-speaking schools, they often only understand the language of the United States, and are only slightly familiar with the culture. Last Monday was the fourth of July, but some international students were unaware of the significance of the date. Saturday’s carnival involved karaoke singing of popular American songs, but some students were only somewhat familiar with the songs.
Summer School at Exeter isn’t just a typical “study-abroad” program for international students or an opportunity to increase their ability in pre-calculus, it’s an opportunity for learning to go beyond that and dwell into learning the societal aspect of the United States—a chance to experience America.
It is the goal of a traditional school to teach English, science and math, but at Exeter, the goal is to teach that amongst diversity and kindness. We can all somehow integrate Mr. Weatherspoon’s wise words at Friday’s assembly into our daily routine for the next month. Say hello to everyone—including faculty and staff, wave at cars that give you a chance to cross the street, do not treat summer school like a “meat-ing” market (figuratively speaking) and most of all, make sure to meet people from different places. You might not ever be surrounded by people from so many different countries ever again.
So before you return to sitting in your couch at home, take Mr. Weatherspoon’s words into consideration before it’s too late:
“You didn’t come all this way just to meet people who are just like you.”