Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Foreign students at Wyoming Seminary get to know America

For teens from Afghanistan, Argentina, Japan and Russia, experience an eye-opener.

July 29. 2013 12:21AM

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WILKES-BARRE — For Gleb Titov, reading U.S. current events every morning is more than just a daily routine.

“Every day when I am waking up, I take my phone and look at the news,” Titov, 17, said.

He checks the news on his iPhone 5 every day to “stay up to date with my country.”

Titov is from Moscow, Russia, the same city where Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who disclosed secrets about U.S. surveillance programs who is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, has been stuck at the airport for more than a month.

Titov said the accounts of Snowden in the news from the two countries are different, but he said he thinks it is interesting to compare the two. For example, American and Russian news outlets have different opinions on the subject.

Titov is one of 40 students from around the world who studied English as a Second Language at Summer at Wyoming Seminary for the past four weeks.

Kingston vs. Kabul

Wyoming Seminary’s setting in a suburban environment gives students an opportunity to experience American life on the East Coast, and Bahara Mohammadi said Kingston is “180 degrees different than Kabul,” her hometown and the largest city in Afghanistan.

Mohammadi said the security of women in Afghanistan is the polar opposite of women in the U.S. She said she feels safe in Kingston and can go outside after 6 p.m., a freedom she does not have back home.

On the Fourth of July, Mohammadi, along with the other ESL students, went to Kirby Park to see the annual fireworks display. “I made an American flag with my own hands and brought it to the park,” she said.

Although Mohammadi said she enjoys Kingston, she has not disconnected herself from her hometown.

“I am very active on Facebook and I keep up with the news,” she said.

On the other hand, Geronimo Maspero, of Buenos Aires, does not keep up with Argentinian news because he does not want to distract himself from his studies in the U.S.

“I do not even check the news of my favorite soccer team in Argentina,” Maspero, 15, said with a laugh.

While Pennsylvania is struggling with the constitutionality of its new voter identification law, Argentina passed a bill that expanded its voting rights. This October, 16-year-olds will be allowed to vote in Argentina’s legislative elections for the first time.

Mohammadi, Titov, Maspero and Rinko Oka of Tokyo all said that in order to vote in Afghanistan, Russia, Argentina and Japan, an identification card must be presented.

Oka, 16, said she loves the nature in Kingston because Tokyo, as a highly populous metropolis, does not have it.

“In Japan, there are a lot of wires, so we never see blue skies,” Oka said.

She also said she likes the American education system because it gives her a chance to speak up for the first time. In Tokyo, classrooms are silent. Students are allowed to ask questions, but discussion and debate are not allowed.

“Here, teachers give us a chance to share our opinions,” she said.


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