Danish exchange student Camilla Fredericksen arrived in the U.S. with a few beliefs about Americans that she quickly learned were false.
Europeans abroad often characterize Americans as narrow-minded and loud-mouthed, she said.
“The people here are really, really kind,” said the 17-year-old, who arrived in Smithville nine months ago. “I feel like they’re very down-to-earth.”
Fredericksen attended an informational session that American Field Service organized to inform the public about the exchange program. The event was held at 3 Links Coffee in Smithville on May 21.
Fredericksen is one of 22 foreign students placed through the exchange program in the greater Kansas City area. The program hopes to place 63 by the end of this year.
Fredericksen’s mom was part of a U.S. exchange program, and the mother suggested her daughter follow suit.
Fredericksen said being in a rural area was important to help her minimize culture shock.
“I have horses back home. I’m a farm girl,” she said with a laugh.
Fredericksen leaves at the end of June.
“I miss my family, of course, but at the same time I don’t want to leave this place. I have great friends here and great memories,” she said. “It’s gonna be tough.”
American Field Service organized the event as part of Smithville’s celebration of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The day is marked by the United Nations as an occasion to engage in meaningful discourse across cultures.
Fredericksen arrived in the United States last June at about the same time Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump formally declared himself a candidate.
“So many people talk bad about Donald Trump. I don’t agree with anything he has to say.”
Fredericksen’s message to the Republican nominee: “Just stop.”
Information about participating in an American Field Service exchange program or hosting a student is available at www.afsusa.org.
Info about participating in an American Field Service exchange program or hosting a foreign student is available at the website, http://www.afsusa.org/.