Students from Other Countries Spend Year at Tracy High


Ethan Inman

A global pandemic is a challenging time to start a new chapter in life in a different country. However, that hasn’t stopped students from around the world from attending Tracy High.

Claudia Ferrando and Bell Sapsawan are two of many foreign exchange students who have spent the 2020-2021 school year at Tracy High. Claudia traveled all the way to Tracy from Spain, while Bell came from Thailand. In a cool twist of fate, they ended up living in the same house. Both of them are currently living with Kayden Masters, a Tracy High senior, which means there are 3 high school seniors from 3 different countries in the Masters home. The Masters family has been a host family for foreign exchange students before, and when they were asked to host two students this year, they readily accepted.

Up until this point, Bell and Claudia have spent most of their time at THS online, just like the rest of the Tracy High Students. However, not even a global pandemic could have stopped the two girls from using their time in the US to the fullest.

Both the girls participate in extracurricular activities at THS. Bell plays tennis, and Claudia does pole vaulting for Track and field. They have both enjoyed the experience they have had in these extracurricular activities.

Claudia has loved meeting all of her teammates. “Track is so fun. The people are so nice!” she said, “I’ve never been on a track team before and I’m really enjoying pole vaulting.”

Bell is enjoying tennis because it is a new experience for her. “I play tennis because I’m interested about it. I’m really enjoying playing it,” she said.

In terms of classes, both girls have had good experiences with their classes despite experiencing them in a mostly virtual format.

Claudia has been really enjoying Drama, because drama class is an opportunity she wouldn’t have had back in Spain. “I’ve always loved drama, but in my country, we don’t have a class about it. So, it is a really cool experience to learn about it in high school,” she said.

On the other hand, Bell is really enjoying her math class because she really likes her math teacher, Mr. Daily. “He always takes care of every student and makes sure that we understand all the lessons,” she said.

Outside of school, the girls have tried their best to have as many safe experiences as possible throughout Tracy. They have both really enjoyed the experiences they have had.

Claudia has enjoyed the social interaction that she has been able to have during her time in Tracy. “Everyone is so nice!” she said, “I have felt at home since I got here.”

On the other hand, Bell’s favorite Tracy experience has been the time she has spent downtown. “It is so pretty and has lots of good restaurants,” she said.

Of course, the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the two girls have spent a lot of time in their current home with their host family. Just like their experiences out and about, the girls have loved spending time with the Masters.

“We do a lot of things together and I enjoy every single moment with them. They laugh with me and understand me,” Claudia said.

Bell said similar things about her experience with the Masters. “My favorite thing about my host family is hanging out together,” she said, “My host family is really cool, they’re chill and funny.”

As for what they miss back home, both mentioned missing family, friends, and the food in their home countries. However, it is clear that even though leaving those comforts during a global pandemic was a big risk, that risk is paying off because the girls are having a really valuable experience going to high school in the United States.