Dan Vermeer, History Teacher
The International Students have enriched my classroom. As we learn about different people and places around the world, students at PC can put a name and a face with what we are studying. When Ukraine was threatened with war from Russia, we knew students from there whose families were affected. When we learn about Chinese history, students from China add a great deal of value and perspective. When we study the War on Terror, we have had students from Afghanistan who can tell us their experiences and perspectives. When we learn about the role the US has had in Central and South America we have had student share their view of America's role in the world. It is very interesting to see how the rest of the world views the US. Having international students is great because they help bring the world to PCHS.
Zhiying (Kitty) Gu, China
Hanxi Tang, China
I graduated from Pella Christian and am currently studying human physiology at the University of Iowa. During my time at Pella Christian High, wonderful teachers, coaches, classmates, and host families went out of their ways to help me to stretch and grow in many aspects.
Coming from thousands of miles away, many young Chinese international students found American high school experience overwhelming. However, at Pella Christian, caring host families as well as loving International Student Program staff eased my transition into a foreign culture. Pella Christian employs a team of experienced teachers and international student coordinators that carefully select host families for each student base on the students' preference and personality. All of the host families I lived with treated me as an adopted member of their family. All the host parents cared for me physically and emotionally like caring for their own children. I believe that I would not be able to experience this type of tender care outside of the Pella Christian community.
Aside from host families, the International Student Program team members provide individualized support to each international student. During all three of my years at Pella Christian, I received numerous supports that enabled me to achieve academic success as well as personal growth. What helped me most in making the transition to the American education system was the wonderful faculty at PC. As a smaller institution, Pella Christian enabled me to establish close relationships with my teachers and advisers. Teachers knew me by name and were willing to provide support by tutoring me outside of the class. The relatively small class size enabled me to fully engage during class time. Unlike some American public high schools, Pella Christian offers rigorous curriculum along with good study strategies that prepared me well for college.
International students at Pella Christian are provided with opportunities to engage in a variety of extracurricular activities. Although I was unfamiliar with American extracurricular activities before, I tried out for theater, tennis, and managed cross-country at PC. What gave me the courage to get a taste of American high school activities was the non-judgmental mentality at PC. Pella Christian coaches, directors, and instructors evaluate effort more than performance. The Christian teammates at PC are encouraging and supportive. All the activities I participated in are God honoring. This positive experience at PC helped me to keep an open mind in college about activities and events.
In a secular university, I often find myself missing the true Christian community at PC. My experience could not have been any better had I attended any other high school. A community trusting in the Lord, Pella Christian strives to make disciples of all nations. Be an eagle, but moreover, be a disciple of the Lord at PC.
Gabriel Soler, Brazil
I graduated from Pella Christian and am planning on majoring in Finance and Entrepreneurship Management at Trinity Christian College. PCHS is not only a school, but it is also a family. Leaving a big city and going to a small Dutch town seemed like a big cultural shock, but the family atmosphere made it so much easier. I was blessed with two amazing host families that really invested in my life. They were always there when I needed them and that makes a huge difference when you are not living with your parents. Having an older brother, a younger sister, a Dutch grandma, and many other people that I would never expect to have in my life gave me a broader worldview. It taught me to respect, listen, and love people. PCHS will always look for families that match your personality, and that really made me feel at home.
If you want to make a difference, PCHS will definitely give you a chance to do that! There are so many different activities to do. My sophomore year I was involved with more than 6 extracurricular activities. Also, one thing that really helped was my internship because internships give you a better view of what you want to major in, and that is a really rare opportunity. My best memory is going to state in soccer my senior year. Everyone worked really hard, and I was proud to be part of that team! Because of the combination of great people, education, and Christ-like teachers, PCHS is the best fit for any foreign exchange student looking for lifelong friendships, academic success, and spiritual growth.
Sohee Kwon, South Korea
PCHS has educated and nurtured me to serve God's world in many ways. I would not have the same dream right now if the teachers at PCHS did not teach me. They taught me really well, so I could have a good base and study further to be a doctor. They always tried really hard to hand the knowledge that they have to me. It wasn't easy to keep up with all the assignments and tests, but it was totally worth it, and I am really thankful for that. I will become a doctor so that I can serve and glorify God by healing other people. I will never forget how to serve others and God because I have seen it so many times how other students and teachers serve at PCHS. I also learned how to bring light to darkness. This world isn't a perfect place; there are so many broken things. We often cover it, and try to hide or ignore it, but if we don't bring them out to the light, then it will never get better. Since I will be a psychiatrist, I will probably have to face a lot of darkness. It won't be easy to bring them out to the light, but I was trained at PCHS, so I will remember that it is possible.
Also, God blessed me with a really awesome host family while I was studying at PCHS. If they were not there for me, I would not have made it.
Ziqi (Zack) Shen, China
I graduated from Pella Christian High School and went on to study in the University of Pittsburgh, PA, seeking double majors of History and Communication. While I was trying to adjust myself into the new community and confront new challenges in college, I found myself more prepared and confident than other Chinese international freshmen in my school. The education I received from PCHS armed me with both knowledge and great experiences, which helped me a lot in my college daily life.
PCHS provides host families for us the international students, which is something I really appreciate. As the only kid of my family, I’d never experienced having siblings before I was put into this great host family. I had a host sister who is in my age and a host brother who is three years younger. Sometimes we fought over things like food but also had fun together like real siblings. My host parents treated me like one of theirs and always provided me what I needed. They are all pretty open to me, which allowed me to share my troubles and happiness without scruples or uneasiness. I talked a lot with my host families and that really improved my English skills. When I entered college some Americans couldn’t even recognize me as a foreign student thanks to the speaking skills I built throughout the daily conversation I had with my host family.
Unlike those public schools in the US, PCHS has a smaller student body. This really helped me to get involved in the school. I literally know everybody in my school and built strong friendships with some of them. It is extremely easy to get involved in school activities and extracurriculars in PCHS. I did cross-country in my junior year which helped me make several great friends. I learned about baseball and football, the two sports I had no idea about before I came to the US, by being a manager of both baseball and football teams at PCHS. Mock trial helped me to understand the judicial process of the United States. Working in Student Council helped me develop my leadership. Taking part in the student publication improved my writing skills, speaking skills, and skills of taking pictures. PCHS also provides internship opportunities which can be vital to us in the future career… All these great experiences gave us a great advantage and made us more prepared for unknown challenges in the future.
The more I step out in this world, the more I miss what I had in Pella Christian High School. Now that I am in a new city and facing new perils, I should use what I learned from PCHS wisely and move on in my journey of life.
Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!
David Kish, Ukraine
First of all, I can say now that I have been to America, which was my child dream. I always wanted to be a foreign exchange student, but I never thought I would have the privilege of being a foreign exchange student at a Christian high school. I had a great year at Pella Christian; it was just amazing getting to know the great people of PCHS. My favorite part was probably the chapels on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even if I got up on the wrong side of the bed, chapel turned it around every time! I was blessed with a great soccer team and also with great coaches, whose advice was useful not just in soccer, but in life too. My host family was just awesome; I couldn't have asked for a better family. I got three great brothers, and we had great times together. I always wanted to know what is it like to have a sister, and I got Maria, the best little sister ever. My host parents took great care of me. They were always there when I needed them! God has blessed me with another family! I miss Pella Christian. I miss my friends and my host family! I am thankful to God for this life changing experience!