Let Nils Babtist attend FHS
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Nils Babtist is an exchange student from Sweden who is living with a host family in Farmington, CT for the duration of the school year. He would like to be able to attend FHS with his host sister, but has been rejected by the Superintendent. Not all hope is lost, though; The Farmington Board of Education can approve Nils’ request, and change its policies to allow him to attend.
This change is important because exchange students offers an unique opportunity, for all of us experience firsthand the richness and diversity of a cultural difference from our own, and for us to exemplify American values and culture to a foreign visitor.
WHY IT MATTERS
In a world that’s becoming closer and smaller, it becomes increasingly important that we can understand and communicate with those of other cultures and nationalities. Not only can this teach us about these other cultures, but it can also teach us about our own ways and culture. This teaching is one emphasized at FHS, which often tries to expose students to different cultures and ways of thinking. But the best way to accomplish this is to invite someone who is from a different culture into FHS, and allow students to organically learn from them in the course of everyday school interactions.
WHY NILS WAS REJECTED
Nils was rejected by Farmington’s Superintendent due to the “very challenging budgetary times” the school district is facing. However, we believe that the costs of having one exchange student are minimal, and that the benefits of having Nils at FHS vastly outweigh the costs. To read about the problem Nils is facing with the Farmington School District from his perspective, visit his website.
ABOUT NILS BABTIST
Nils Babtist is a 16 year-old boy from Stockholm, Sweden. He is living with the Trofimov family in Farmington. He enjoys playing sports, especially hockey, tennis, and golf, and a top student at his Swedish school. He is looking forward to exploring and understanding US culture, and playing sports in Farmington.
Nils is a passionate and caring person. In Sweden, he referees youth hockey, and sits on his town’s Election Committee. In the short time he’s been here, he’s been surprised by the kindness and generosity of Americans, in particular about how everyone says “Hello” to each other. He really wants to learn more about the US, and is particularly curious to see how the American education system differs from Sweden’s.
Nils Babtist received a grant from YFU to go to schools in Sweden and talk about his experiences in the US after his return. He is chronicling his experiences in the US at nilsbabtist.com.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Nils Babtist is in the US with the Youth For Understanding (YFU) program on a J-1 visa. YFU is a reputable not-for-profit exchange organization with branches in over 50 countries. YFU coordinates exchanges between families interested in hosting and students interested in exchanging, and serves as an intermediary between the two, providing services such as background checks, insurance, and visa assistance. YFU was founded in 1951 in Michigan by Americans interested in hosting students from Germany. Today, it exchanges more than 4500 students every year.
ABOUT THE J-1 VISA
The J-1 Visa is a visa that allows for non-Americans to enter the United States to do a cultural exchange. All J-1 visas must be given by an organization which is screened and vetted by the US Department of State annually. The J-1 visa comes with several restrictions. Among these is that the student cannot pay a school tuition.
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