Meet 10th graders Hanna Christmann and Wipawaee Khangkaew, and ninth grader Yumy Nguyen. The three exchange students are finishing up what each says was an enjoyable experience at Imagine School of Coolidge.
“I like this school,” said Khangkaew, 17, the only one of the three to spend the whole school year here. “People in Coolidge have been good to me. The students here have been really good to me, helping me with my pronunciation.”
Khangkaew is from Thailand where she attends a school with 4,000 students. Imagine is less than one-tenth the size, and Khangkaew says she knows more of the students here than at the school in her home country.
Khangkaew immersed herself in the experience, participating in band, choir, volleyball, cheerleading and softball all the while maintaining good grades. She got the opportunity to travel to Disneyland, Payson and the Grand Canyon, and was excited to see snow for the first time in her life.
Hosted by Jeremy and Tiffany Price, she will return home Saturday to Nakhon Sawan and immediately begin her junior year of high school – schools are open year-round in Thailand.
Christmann arrived in Coolidge from Germany on Jan. 4. Coming from a small town, Coolidge offered an environment that was somewhat similar for her.
“It’s a small school where everyone knows each other,” Christmann, 16, said. “The students and teachers were very nice to me. The first time I came to school, everyone was really friendly to me. I have enjoyed my time here.”
Christmann said she especially enjoyed all the traveling, noting she visited Northern and Southern California, Tucson and Sedona. As a bonus, when her “host” brother graduated from school in Colorado Springs, Christmann went with her hosts – Albert and Vicki Boartfield.
The youngest of three girls and one boy, Christmann attends a language school in Germany where she is studying Spanish and French. She will return June 2 to Germany.
At age 15, Nguyen is the youngest of the exchange students. She is also the most accomplished language learner, speaking German, English, French, Spanish, Vietnamese and is learning Mandarin.
“I have to learn three languages besides German in (language) school,” Nguyen said. “My parents said it would be good for the future for me to be able to speak many different languages.”
Matthew and Jeni Neu and their children, as well as Brenda Schilling hosted Nguyen, who arrived Dec. 31, 2011, in Coolidge. She said that the preconceived notions she brought to the U.S. were quickly dispelled.
“Everyone is much nicer than what I heard,” said Nguyen, who participated in cheerleading and basketball. “Everyone is nice and treats you the same. I love it here.”