Heights High student returns from year in Thailand
Janine Walker with her classmates in Bangkok, Thailand.
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Heights High senior Janine Walker has returned to Cleveland Heights after completing her junior year in Bangkok, Thailand with the AFS Foreign Exchange Program. She lived with a host family and attended a Thai high school.
“When I left here I was a girl speaking the language of Cleveland Heights and I returned speaking fluent Thai,” she said. “The exchange year was the best of my life! My host parents in Thailand could not speak English, nor did most of my teachers, so I learned the language quickly.
“My friends there, both Thai and international, were jealous when I told them about the opportunities at my school [Heights High], with the variety of AP and academic courses in music, the arts and the athletics opportunities,” she said.
Walker’s family has been involved with AFS for several years. Her brother Miles went to Japan for a summer exchange.
Her mother, Carla Bailey, is an active volunteer and has hosted several students. While Janine was in Thailand, her family hosted two AFS students, from Tanzania and Senegal.
“Thailand, while beautiful, has much poverty and is underdeveloped—things you don't see everyday in America,” said Bailey. “Now that Janine has returned, she has a greater confidence in herself, tolerance and respect for another culture, and a greater appreciation for her life here.”
Bailey is grateful to the host family that cared for Janine, and said, “It is amazing to me that people on the other side of the world, from an extremely different culture, and who don't speak English, had the same love and care for Janine that they would have for their own child."
For information about hosting an international student, contact AFS volunteer Adrienne Yelsky, 216-371-3733 or email@example.com.
Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison at Heights High.