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Chilean Exchange Students at St. Mark's This Winter
Chilean Exchange Students at St. Mark's This Winter

Six students from the Grange School in Santiago, Chile, are visiting campus this winter as part of an established exchange program with St. Mark's, through the SM Global Citizenship Initiative.

The students— Francisca Anna, Antonia Correa, Anna Oemich, Tomas Opazo, Clemente Torres, and Benjamin Zamorano—arrived on January 20 and will be at St. Mark's until February 16.

The Grange School is a co-ed, independent day school in Santiago with an enrollment of 1,700 students from Pre-K to 12th grade. The Grange School is known for its small classes and friendly atmosphere, with most of the students coming from an international background. The Grange School has been a partner school with St. Mark's since 2014.

When interviewed by St. Marker correspondents Grace Lee '23 and Ivy Li '23, the Chilean visitors shared different reasons for taking part in the exchange and coming to St. Mark's. "All of them wanted to experience school in a brand new environment and meet new people. Francisca wondered if American schools were really like they are in the movies. Antonia has experienced a pre-college class at Stanford before, so she was curious to see how American schools work."

In that same St. Marker article, the guests from Santiago also expressed what they liked about St. Mark's. "Tomas noted that the classes are more focused on the students, and Benjamin said that he liked how the classes have fewer people. Antonia liked that many different cultures are represented at St. Mark's, which St. Mark's students definitely value as a big part of our community."

The six Chilean students have a variety of interests, including sports, music, and the arts. "They are a really well-rounded group who represent the Grange and our exchange well," says Neil Cifuentes, assistant director of Global Citizenship and on-site partner school coordinator at St. Mark's. "In addition to participating in academics, they are also contributing to athletics and robotics as well as our Saturday program. They all went on the Opera trip and have already been on excursions to Boston and Cambridge. The exchange has been going very well."

"The Grange School Exchange is a highlight of every year," says Dr. Laura Appell-Warren, St. Mark's director of Global Citizenship. "This exchange is one of our longer exchanges and the students from Santiago bring with them a vibrancy and energy that helps dispel the winter doldrums. We love having them here!"