Costa Mesa resident Sue Smith decided to take the education component upon herself.
“As former Estancia [Parent Teacher Assn.] president, I wanted to give our students the opportunity to expand their cultural awareness,” said Smith, founder and director of the Australian Education Exchange Program.
The Australian delegation from Hoppers Crossing Secondary College landed Saturday at Los Angeles International Airport, becoming the fifth delegation of Australian exchange students to visit Estancia.
The Australian students will spend the next three weeks observing and participating in the day-to-day lives of their student hosts. For the past few days, they have been having fun chatting and getting acquainted with their American peers over meals and at an Anaheim Ducks game.
On Monday, while Estancia was off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the American students hosted their Australian counterparts to a welcome to Costa Mesa lunch at the local Souplantation.
On Tuesday, the Australians will enter the classroom. They are eager to learn about the American high school experience.
“I want to learn differences between how we learn. I think they learn through sit-down lecture and reading, whereas we go on lots of excursions,” said Hoppers Crossing junior Amy Penaluna, 16. She thinks she may find the American educational system more formal.
Yet, she also points out that her host, Estancia junior Vanessa Corona, 16, plans on wearing jeans to class tomorrow, while she will be wearing her school uniform, which includes a skirt, tights and blazer.
Amy has been preparing for her cross-Pacific journey for quite some time. “I’ve been learning Spanish,” she says.