Chilean Exchange Students Brave New Culture At SJ

Will Ledig ’17

This year at Strake Jesuit, we have been honroed to have two junior foreign exchange students from Chile: Martin Aguilera Valdes and Matias Gabler Gotschlich. The foreign exchange student program at Strake Jesuit started back in 2005, and has had quite a few students move through the program every year. I asked Martin a few questions about his experience thus far:

Martin describes the experience at SJ as “amazing” and loves how the students have already accepted him as one of their own. “The teacher[s] already memorized my name, every time I change class someone is shouting my name on the campus,” he says. However, at the beginning, Martin wasn’t sure if he really wanted to be a part of the program, as he would be leaving his home, family, friends, and even culture behind in Chile for a year. “The big difference[s] [between Chile and the US are the money value, the difference in the way that you speak to others… and finally the most difficult thing in the US is the food, where I live everything is organic and I almost never eat fast food.” All in all, Martin has found the transition to be quite easy.

According to Martin, the exchange program’s “objective is to find the peace in the world by making exchanges.” In such a way, Martin, Matias, and all others who have participated in the foreign exchange program have shown us an example of unsung heroes, leaving their normal lives behind for a year for new experiences, friends, and a call for world peace.