Chilean Exchange Students Arrive at GMHS
POSTED: 4:05 p.m. EDT, September 10, 2010
Contact: John Brett, FCCPS Communications
FCCPS PHOTOS/John Brett
George Mason Principal Tyrone Byrd (above) welcomes two dozen Chilean students to George Mason High. Below, the students walk around the 'spiral staircase' at George Mason to begin their cultural exchange.
If George Mason High School principal, Tyrone Byrd, is anything, he is consistent and relentless on certain matters.
In his greeting, Friday, to 27 Chilean students at George Mason High School, Byrd said, "I'd like to welcome all of you to America," and continued, while pointing to the Dallas Cowboys football jersey he was wearing, "the home of 'America's Team'!"
From Washington Redskin fans in the room there were groans. But from three Chilean girls in the back corner came the cheer; "Go Cowboys!" followed by laughter from everyone.
So began this year's exchanging of cultures between the George Mason High School community and more than two dozen students and teachers from Trewhela, a private school located in the heart of Santiago, Chile.
They will spend two weeks in Falls Church and will be hosted by GMHS "brothers and sisters" who will travel to Santiago this spring for two weeks and be hosted by the same Chileans who are staying with them now.
Even though they met face to face for the first time, Friday, they are not strangers.
"All summer they have been emailing one another and trading pictures on Facebook," said GMHS International Baccalaureate coordinator Asheesh Misra. "They know each other well before they even meet in person."
The Chile Exchange program was established at GMHS in 2003 and has been growing ever since.
"Strong friendship ties have formed between the GM community and Trewhela's families that have extended, in may cases, beyond high school years," said Chile Exchange coordinator Renata Carvalho. "I know of several students who have graduated GM, and are now in college, and have traveled to Santiago to visit their Chilean families."