Welcome to WFS From Across the World!


Lilia Machado

Siba Sharaf, student from Palestine, presents to the student body about the life and history of Palestine.

Sameer Vidwans

Imagine flying to another country. Many of our current readers may have done this, so it might not seem nerve-wracking, but imagine flying to another country, knowing that you would not come back home for ten months. Imagine the nervousness, the potential longing for home, but also the simultaneous rush of excitement. Now imagine taking on this seemingly dauntless feat as a high schooler! That’s what our three foreign exchange students, David Wu, Alex Akhvlediani, and Shiba Sharaf, are doing this year. Find out their story in this article!

David Wu ‘23 is coming to study in Delaware from China. He has been to America before, but this is his first time staying here for an entire year, and thus his first year at Friends. In a conversation regarding his motivation to study overseas, Wu commented, “I came here because of the difference between Western and Eastern education. In the East, schools are more focused on memorization, and Western education is more focused on critical thinking instead of memorization.” In continuation of this thought, Wu noted that he’s more of a ‘Western learner,’ saying, “I hate just memorizing things; Eastern education isn’t a good fit for me.” Therefore, it is clear that Wu has felt that his ability to experience Western education here at Friends has been rather valuable. On top of this educational exploration, David is also playing basketball in the Winter. However, if you’re now interested in Wu’s story, it is notable that he had actually studied in America prior to coming to Friends. On this subject, Wu commented, “this isn’t my first time being an exchange student; I’ve been in the US twice before for summer schools.”. Because of this prior experience, it wasn’t too awkward for him when meeting his host family, since he’s done this before. Wu commented that he misses his parents a lot though, but he’ll see them over the summer.

Alex Akhvlediani ‘21, who is coming from Georgia, a country at the intersection between Europe and Asia, also misses his parents a lot, as well as his home. In a conversation about Akhvlediani experience in assimilating to American life, he commented, “getting used to America is really hard because it’s really different from what I’m used to. The culture is really different, and slangs are difficult to use properly. I used to be ashamed of talking because of my accent, but I’m more talkative now and have made some good friends, who don’t care about my accent,” he says. Therefore, although Akhvlediani was once much more conscious of the unique nature of his accent, he is now feeling much more comfortable at Friends. He already knows his host family pretty well, as they are his dad’s friends, who he’s talked to before. Akhvlediani is liking the school itself a lot too. “I guess the reason why it’s so different from other schools is that it is Quaker, and has the SPICES within the handbook itself. It really builds a good community that cares about one another. The classes are really good, and the school is like another home for me,” he says. Therefore, it is clear that while Akhvlediani’s journey at this school may have been initially tumultuous, he seems to be loving it now! On top of his engagement in academics at Friends, Akhvlediani played football in the fall, is wrestling in the Winter season, and will play lacrosse in the Spring. He is doing a two-year program at Friends, so when he graduates here, he wants to go to college to pursue a programming major.

Siba Sharaf is in the 11th grade as of right now and coming from Palestine. She is liking Friends a lot, and especially likes “how Friends teaches that each person is a respected and valued individual of the community, which makes everyone feel very included.” She missed her parents a lot at the beginning of the year but eventually got used to it, since she also likes her host family a lot, so she “still miss(es) them, just not as much as I did at the beginning of the year. I also miss my friends from my old school, and I missed knowing people and having people know me. Now, though, people know me again, so I don’t miss that anymore.” she says. Siba is the AFS Intercultural Program student this year. She is from the same school as Ahmad, who was the AFS student last year. 

“The host family gets selected first, and the family can ask for an exchange student from certain countries. Friends can also suggest a student or program as well, but the host family has a bigger role in the selection. Everyone – both students and host families – get vetted by AFS,” says Mrs. Zug.

Now that you’ve ‘met’ the foreign exchange students, why don’t you meet them in real life? It’ll be a great chance to meet someone from another country, and you’ll make a new friend!