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A Day at U.S. Capitol and Settlements: Foreign Exchange Students Reflect on New Experiences

Stephen Wells
U.S. Capitol building from afar.

On Oct. 7, U.S. Government students at Rockbridge County High School(RCHS) traveled to the nation’s capitol at 5:30 a.m. in two coach buses for an educational field trip. This year, the trip had half as many students signed up as 140-ish from the previous year.

When at the Capitol, the students and teachers explored the Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean War Veterans Memorials, the Congress building that holds the House of Representatives and Senate, and the entirety of the National Mall. Between the sightseeing, they visited L’Enfant Plaza for lunch and Tyson’s Corner for dinner and shopping.

Each year when the students go on this adventure, senior foreign exchange students who attend RCHS are invited to go as well. In this instance, Sybile Leygonie tagged along with RCHS’ senior class. 

Leygonie came from a coastal town in France unlike our mountainous agriculture county in Virginia. Her high school is much smaller than RCHS, so life has been vastly different for her this year. 

For her trip to D.C., she came with no expectations, so she ended up impressed. Leygonie illustrates the differentiations between her country’s capital and ours. 

“In France, the system is different. We do not have an actual capitol, but an equivalence would be where the Congress is located which would be at the Château de Versailles in Paris, but the Senate is not located at the same place even though the Senate is also in Paris,” said Leygonie.

The U.S. and Virginia history students also attended their annual Jamestown and Yorktown field trip. Foreign exchange students, Anton Lucke, Duman Abdurakhmanuly, and Rusha Vira attended with their junior class. 

Lucke is originally from a town near Cologne, Germany, and compared the German settlement to the American settlement. 

“The German settlements in America were friends with Americans and lived like them, just soweit traditions are different. I especially liked the battlefield in Yorktown and the tour to that. In Jamestown, the archaeologist section was also really interesting,” said Lucke.

Abdurakhmanuly is from Shymkent City in Kazakhstan and emphasizes the loving community he has faced here. For the trip, he spoke with great interest about the time he spent at Virginia’s original settlements.

“The most interesting part of Jamestown was the old buildings, especially the church and graves. The most interesting part of the trip to Yorktown was the museum with interesting artifacts of history,” said Abdurakhmanuly. 

He thoroughly enjoyed the history lessons of that day. As he is new to the country and this school, he has made the most out of it. Duman points out the contrast of settlements from his native country and the United States.

“I like everything and I have no complaints about the experience. The difference between our settlement and the United States’ is mostly geographical location, culture, and native people.”

Vira is from Uzbekistan, and she acknowledges how vast American history is based on her experience in the settlements. 

“Our original settlements were founded in the 8th-6th centuries B.C. and people were fighting to settle here instead of finding new land. I liked almost everything [about Jamestown], being able to stand at the same place where America’s history began, learning more about historical events, and seeing it with my own eyes made me feel excited. I liked the ship at Yorktown Museum, it was pretty fascinating to see innside of the ship and see how people traveled at that time,” said Vira.

All of these foreign exchange students experienced our nation’s culture firsthand for the first time in their lives. In our RCHS annual trips, each of them were able to contrast the details of settlements and the capitol to their own home country.

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About the Contributor
Stephen Wells
Stephen Wells, Arts & Style Editor
Senior Stephen Wells is a 3rd year reporter who avidly authors ‘film-bro’ movie reviews and edits arts and styles articles during Rockbridge’s Prowler class. Wells is attempting to make an imprint on the school’s football team. Aside from a misunderstanding of story ideas (totally acceptable to write a movie review instead of an assigned article), he is nothing short of a determined, intelligent, and dedicated writer. Due to his knowledge on many sports, from observing and participating in them, he is the perfect candidate for sports reviews too! Overall, if a person were to choose their favorite Prowler reporter, it would undoubtedly be indubitably be Wells.

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