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Foreign Exchange Students Joins RHS Juniors

By Staff | Sep 11, 2015

Carmen Mak (right) joins the junior class this year at Rugby High School. Also pictured: host mother and RHS Guidance Counselor Julie Sjol. (Photo by Bryce Berginski/PCT)

The Rugby Public School District had a new student enroll at Rugby High School this year.

Mak Ka Man [pronounced “men”], American-ized as Carmen Mak, joins the junior class this year, coming from Hong Kong through the International Cultural Exchange Services Program. She will live in the area for 10 months, hosted by David and Julie Sjol.

Mak applied for and received a scholarship to join the ICES program. She was then selected out of numerous applicants. The Sjols were then in communication with her from March to August.

“[Mak] said she’s always wanted to know what it’s like to live in America,” Julie Sjol said.

Students in ICES are 15-18 years of age, and are primarily from countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America. They are screened for emotional and intellectual maturity, English proficiency and academic achievement, and must maintain a “C” average or better in classes taken in the U.S.

Julie said Mak’s class schedule sounds daunting, with courses like Algebra II, Sociology and Psychology, but she has taken to it with a “learning is fun” attitude.

“I love Spanish, it’s fun” Mak said about her classes.

Mak also joined the Cross Country team this year, a sport that isn’t in her school in Hong Kong.

“Carmen has been a welcome addition to our team,” RHS Cross Country Coach Bill Jansen said. “She is quiet, but very upbeat and positive. She is working her way into the season competitively and getting herself in shape and improving each week. She seems to be enjoying what she is doing.”

Mak joined the One-Act play troupe, and plans to join the Speech team later in the year.

In Hong Kong, Mak is involved in many activities, including volunteer work, working as a librarian, and is a member of a leadership organization similar to a Student Council, English Club and a public speaking club.

Mak said Hong Kong her classes differ largely from American schools such as Rugby’s. There are many smaller schools, and classes are made up of people who are the same age, with 30 students per class. Her classes in the U.S., however, have people who are in different ages and grades. She also said Hong Kong students take up 10 subjects, and the testing in the U.S. so far has been “easier” than in Hong Kong.

Mak also said Hong Kong is crowded, with many tall buildings and more vehicles on the roads. Everything, including schools, is within walking distance.

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