A Win-Win Situation Cultural Exchange in PAA's Junior English Class

Joan Oksenholt, Portland Adventist Academy English teacher, reports that 15 out of 62 students in her junior English class are from countries such as Argentina, Korea, Japan, Norway, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Borneo, Romania, Germany, the Ukraine and Spain.

There are reasons for the migration of these students to PAA. Some are exchange students. Derek Lange from Finland is following his mother, who traveled from Finland to attend PAA when she was a secondary student. Family immigration to America accounts for several more of the students.

Oksenholt says she is excited by this diversity because it brings a global perspective to the classroom. Foreign students are exposed to American thought as it is portrayed in our literature, and American students have an unusual opportunity to hear foreign students comment about American philosophy as they see it. Seeing these students persevere with English as their second language sets a good example for the U.S. students in their studies.

Derek Lange is struck by the open discussions in his classes. He states that in Finland, there is absolutely no social exchange between students and teachers, and rarely is there discussion; no student response is tolerated, much less encouraged. Britta Muller, from Germany, is pleased with a religious emphasis which is omitted from her country’s schools. Kelsey Hoff, from Australia, is impressed with the freedom of thought in the classroom and the number of subject choices that are available. Unfortunately, Luis Zaragoza says that math is easier at PAA than at home in Mexico.

John Long, an American student, emphasizes that this multiculturalism in the classroom helps him and other American students better understand other cultures. Alisa Wyman feels that she is learning as much from these students as they are learning here.

Teacher and students alike feel that this learning environment is a win-win situation.

Featured in: January 2005