Oak Hill Blog

Oak Hill welcomes Guatemalan exchange students

A few extra students are calling Oak Hill Academy home these next couple of months. Thanks to our partnership with “Faces & Our Cultures,” a cultural exchange program for students aged 10 to 17, we welcomed our first “Student Ambassadors” to campus on October 16.

The students who apply to Faces & Our Cultures are selected based on their academic and leadership profile to participate with a cross-cultural partner school for cultural and linguistic enrichment. Their time on The Hill will be a chance “to live a unique and enriching cultural experience that will allow them to realize their full potential, build long lasting friendships, and write a chapter in their lives that they will remember forever” (Faces & Our Cultures).

Our cultural ambassadors will be visiting with us through December 9, and since Oak Hill is a boarding school, they will also have the unique opportunity of experiencing a traditional American holiday by spending Thanksgiving break with a host family.

Experiencing Growth & Independence

Just like our own student body, students in the FACES program are striving for personal, academic, and cultural growth. Our Guatemalan student ambassadors will live in the dormitories, shadow classes, enjoy athletics, and experience the structured independence of daily life at Oak Hill.

“Going to a boarding school is something I have always wanted to experience,” one student said. “I feel this will be the chance of making new friends and learning to do stuff by myself.”

Parents also look forward to seeing growth from the process. “I expect her to develop her personality, become more independent, and become more self-confident,” one parent said.

Oak Hill’s commitment to college preparation is also top of mind for the parents of our student ambassadors: “The more experiences we can provide them, the better,” a parent said. “In particular, for my child, experiencing boarding school will prepare him for college.”

The Oak Hill Academy Experience

Beyond academics, there are a number of additional aspects of Oak Hill that our Guatemalan student ambassadors cannot wait to experience.

From our renowned basketball team to our world-class equestrian program, our student ambassadors will have the chance to learn what makes Oak Hill unique. More than just academics, our close-knit community also focuses on having fun and educating the whole self.

And our beautiful location in southwestern Virginia is the cherry on top of our guests’ visit. In Guatemala, the summer season is about to begin. Even during the winter, though, the climate is too warm for snow, so the students are thrilled at the chance to view the breathtaking, snow-capped Blue Ridge Mountains.

Our Shared Vision

Oak Hill is proud to be one of more than 85 private schools in the U.S. to partner with Faces & Our Cultures, and we are grateful for the opportunity to host our Guatemalan student ambassadors and to learn from them as they create a mural, teach a Spanish lesson, prepare a meal, share a presentation, and spend this time with our school community. They’re already settling in, and we know this visit will help all of our students to develop multicultural and global competencies. As one of the Guatemalan families put it, “We want our children to be citizens of the world. The more experiences we can provide them, the better.”

Through our children, we can learn that we are not so far apart. Who knows, maybe some of our OHA students will eventually spend their summer break at a sister school in Guatemala!

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