Valeria is our first student from Chile, and she is loving American life, even from the moment she stepped off the plane.

The day of her arrival is one of her favorite memories for a number of reasons, but especially because on the same day she arrived, she accompanied her host family to a Green Bay Packer’s party.

“Her willingness to profit from this amazing cultural experience was not even stopped by an exhausting flight and jetlag!” says Gabby, Valeria’s local coordinator.

“I was very tired, but I really wanted to have that American experience. I met a lot of people. Autumn (her host sister) and Kate (another international student in her host family) had warned me and told me that I needed to be prepared for the chaos and shouts at the T.V. during the game.  It was funny because the shouts didn’t even compare to those in Chile!” recalls Valerie as she chuckles.

Valeria attends high school as a Junior on the Trimester program in Appleton, WI.  She chose the shorter duration program because she needed an option that coincided with her summer break in Chile. The PSE Trimester program was a perfect fit!

Gabby describes Valeria as being sweet, laid back and extremely smart.

“She has adjusted so fast you would never believe she’s been her for only a few weeks. Her English is beautiful and gets better and better by the minute!”

Valeria sees Americans as extraordinarily practical…thinking of everything that makes life more convenient.  She finds most people here very nice, supportive, and friendly. She especially likes her host family, and they have grown very close in a short amount of time.

“I feel like they genuinely care about me, and I feel part of the family,” she shares.

She has built a strong relationship with her host sister, Autumn, and the other international student, Kate.  She says, “We have a lot of fun together, and we rely on each other.”

Dawn, Valeria’s host mother, describes her as quiet, but very polite and sweet.

“Val really fits in like she’s part of the family. It’s been a pleasure to have her join our family.”

Valeria has done many fun things with her host family.  She really enjoyed visiting the family’s lake house and walking on a frozen lake.

“It was fun and beautiful. I remember it was cold in the mountains. It reminded me of the movies Frozen and Jack Frost. We even screamed, and because of the forest we could hear our echoes.”

Valeria has experienced going to the mall a few times and recalls, “I like seeing all the stuff they have here in America.  There are hundreds of different variations of everything, but you can find anything so easily. For now, I think my favorite stores are Garage and Hollister.” She also enjoys going to Target with her friends.

Valeria has enjoyed spending time with Autumn and Kate’s friend group.

“I love to hang out with them after school and then head out to the gym to play volleyball or workout.  Everyone is so funny and has their own personality.”

Other activities they have enjoyed are going out to eat, laser tag, and bowling at night.

“I think my favorite memory thus far is the car rides with the group. Autumn is always the driver because she is the only American of the group. We talk a lot and play music. The vibe and energy are the best with them,” she explains.

Valeria has also enjoyed watching school basketball games with her host family and friends. She loves experiencing and contributing to the school spirit. In the short amount of time that she has been on the program, Valeria notes two important things that she has learned about herself.

First, her self-respect and self-worth have increased due to the support of her school mates.  She explains:

“Meeting new people from school has helped me be aware of my self-worth. When I changed schools back in Chile, I remember having difficulties opening up to people and making a move to talk to other students my age. Now, I know I don’t even have to try being friends with someone.  I just need to let go and just be.”

Second, she has learned that she doesn’t have to stress as much about classwork. She elaborates:

“In Chile, I stress way over the limit and get good grades. In America, I work in my classes and do homework, but I don’t stress about it, and I’m getting great grades.  Stress gets me nowhere!”

Dawn and her family have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Valeria.

“We love learning more about her country of Chile, family, and traditions. The hosting experience has given us all a broader appreciation of other cultures.”

Gabby closes with this message:

“Val, I’m extremely proud of you, and I know that you will shine wherever you go!  You are a true ambassador to our program!”

Written by Flo Webb; Edited by Ann Steffen

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