Foreign student learns new culture

From Taiwan to America, 16-year-old Lee Ming Shan landed on  U.S. soil for the first time in August. Excited to make new friends but missing home, she entered her new home with a new name.

The Swongers were at the airport to meet Sandy. Her mother gave her the American name of Sandy before she came here. She is the third exchange student to live with the Swonger family. They have had girls from both Germany and Norway. This time the family wanted to have a student from an Asian country instead of a European country. The Swongers were sent several profiles of students from all over the world wanting to be exchange students. They chose Sandy based on the information she gave in her paperwork.

“It seemed like she would be a good fit for our family,” host mom Amy Swonger said.

An agency called Education First helped Sandy cross the Pacific.  EF was founded on a simple idea. “To learn you need to experience.” This agency decided which family Sandy was going to live with.

To be able to come to America, Sandy had to learn English and her family had to fill out paperwork. It was a five month process.

Sandy is not the only one in her family that is a foreign exchange student. Her twin sister Tina, or Lee Ming Tsai, lives in Idaho as a foreign exchange student.



“We always do something together and we shared a room,” Sandy said.

Sandy says she misses family the most. They often took vacations to places like China and Vietnam.

Her first language is Mandarin Chinese. Learning English was the hardest thing Sandy had to do to come to the U.S.

“She wants to have the full American experience and even brought a Prom dress with her from Taiwan,” Swonger said.

Here in Kansas, Sandy’s favorite foods are spaghetti, hamburgers, tacos and Oreos. Back home her favorite food is fried rice.

A typical day for Sandy would start off with going to school at 7:50 in the morning.

School usually gets over around 5 in the afternoon. Sandy would later go home and study until late every night. Her favorite classes are P.E. and Chinese.

“In my country back home I study a lot, here not really,” Sandy said. “There’s a lot of using computer and relaxing.”

Here at Skyline, Sandy’s favorite class is Entrepreneurship. She is also involved in volleyball.

“I practice with the volleyball team and I’m happy,” Sandy said. “They are nice to me.”

After the year is over, Sandy has to go home and retake her junior year again.

She wanted to come to school in the U.S. so she could hopefully make more friends and  experience a different culture.

“Everybody is so nice to me and help me a lot,” Sandy said. “I appreciate it.”

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