Fifty-nine years ago, RRHS hosted its first foreign exchange student from Germany. Soon after, a RRHS student spent a year abroad in the Netherlands. Over several decades, RRHS consistently supported student exchange programs, and members of the Rocky River community generously opened their homes to more than 150 international students at RRHS.
Last year RRHS was recognized as a Top Global Learning School for demonstrating dedication to fostering global citizenship through intercultural education.
This year, Rocky River High School welcomed four exchange students from around the world, and welcomed back two of its own from their own student exchange experiences overseas.
Meriem Mazmouri from Tunisia and Soumia Schelker from Germany are part of the AFS International exchange program. Each year students come to RRHS to spend the year living in the community and attending high school. Meriem is being hosted by Kathleen and Michael Russell, whose daughter Ariel is a RRRHS student and son Morgan is a graduate. Soumia is being hosted by Beth and Thomas Clark, whose daughter Dara is a RRHS student.
Rotary Youth Exchange sponsors students through local Rotary clubs in more than 100 countries. Pornchanok Wongniyom from Thailand is being hosted through the Rotary Youth Exchange by Carlos Gutierrez and Monica Palomo, whose son Ian is a Rocky River Middle School student.
A third exchange program, World Heritage, brought Anna Mortensen to RRHS from Denmark. Anna is being hosted by Danielle Drake and Thor Platter, Rocky River residents. World Heritage is an affiliate of the American Scandinavian Student Exchange (ASSE) International program that fosters cultural enrichment and intercultural understanding through youth exchange programs.
Two RRHS students also returned this school year after a year abroad. Hannah Wilson traveled to Italy through AFS, while Ariel Russell traveled to Jordan through World Heritage.
RRHS AFS Club Advisor Shawna Gorby said the goal of student exchange programs is to make the world a smaller place through cultural exchange. The programs foster lifelong bonds and an appreciation for cultural diversity by breaking down barriers.