Nantucket High School participated in its second annual Danish exchange program from the 7th to the 13th of October. Eight Danish students and two teachers made the journey to our island, and were hosted by Nantucket High School students Marina Caspe, Emma Laredo, Phaedra Plank, Britney Anderson, Micah Patterson, Merrick Richards, Marin Hood and Anna Steadman.
Ellisse Gilgen, a science teacher here at NHS, organized the exchange. Mrs. Gilgen had previously taken part in a Danish exchange program at her old school in Hayesville, North Carolina, and having maintained contact with one of the trip’s Danish teachers, she decided to start an exchange program at NHS.
As described by Mrs. Gilgen, “The idea was to not only experience different cultures based on nationality, but for students to be immersed in different types of communities.” The program also allowed Danish students to experience a different kind of school system. In Denmark, students are unable to specifically pick their classes. Instead pick a field that they are interested in and their classes are chosen for them according to that field.
Frida Aagaard, a Danish student said,“the school is awesome, because the classes are way shorter and you have the choice to pick subjects that interest you, so if you’re creative you can choose art classes and so on.”
The Danish exchange students a cultural difference in attitude, and felt that in Denmark, most people are not as friendly and open as the people on Nantucket.
Louise Thysgaard felt similarly, saying, “People in Denmark can be a little reserved in the start, but it was so easy to talk to all the people we met on the exchange.”
Shadowing their NHS host students, the Danes got a taste of what an average American experiences during the school day, and often followed them around after school to participate in their extracurricular activities.
During their stay, they visited some of Nantucket’s most famous landmarks and historic sights, including the Whaling Museum, Altar Rock, and both the Sankaty and Brant Point lighthouses. Daniel Ferdinando Fava, was even brave enough to jump in the ocean.
Many of the Danes, having already traveled to the U.S., expressed how much they enjoyed living in an American household and being shown around by locals. Daniel Fava said, “I have been to America before, but experiencing Nantucket with the locals was priceless.”
Although the Danes were sad to leave so soon, NHS students plan on traveling to Denmark in April of 2019 to be immersed into the Danish school system.
Mrs. Gilgen hopes to make the trip a meaningful project by researching wind energy because Denmark is known for their effective wind turbines. “Denmark leads the world in wind power per capita; in 2017, 43.4% of the country’s energy was from wind,” she told me.
If anyone would like to get involved with this program, reach out to Mrs. Gilgen or watch for signs next fall about hosting a student.
Danish exchange student reflection
|Tjalke: “I think it was a great trip! I was surprised on how the school system is, and especially that you stand up every morning and do that ‘thing’ to the flag (I can’t remember the word). I also think it’s great that you can pick any subjects you like. It was also very ‘strange’ to see our officers in front of the school. I mean, of course they have to be there to prevent the shootings, but it became somehow more real to me, and that it’s a problem. I loved that people were just so open and accommodating I just love the U.S. and the food here! Especially the goldfish!”|
|Jeppe: “I was super thrilled to be in the states, and I think it’s great here. I was really surprised of how your school system was, I really didn’t think that it was so different from ours. I loved the atmosphere and how everyone was treated nicely. Even that you have special ed students at your school is amazing! I love how you don’t look down on them but see them as equals. Overall, an amazing exchange, and I can’t wait for our hosts to come to Denmark!”|
|Frida “It was the best trip ever! When people at our school asked me about it, I told them “you should be sorry you didn’t go.” It was just amazing how open and welcoming people are, compared to Denmark where people are much more reserved. And just how everyone was thrilled to meet us. And the school is awesome, because the classes are way shorter and you have the choice to pick subjects that interest you, so if you’re creative you can choose art classes and so on. The U.S. is an incredible and diverse country.”|
|Louise: “First of all, people in America are so darn nice. People in Denmark can be a little reserved in the start, but it was so easy to talk to all the people we met on the exchange. I think the school system is quite different from the Danish because the length of your classes are not as long as ours and you do a lot of writing. In Denmark it’s a compilation of writing and oral assessment. But it’s so nice that you can choose the subject that best fits you and you have so many different options, like arts, music, ect. Overall, I love the U.S. and the people in it.”|
|Daniel: “My trip to Nantucket was one of the most eye opening and fun experiences I have ever had. I have been to America before, but experiencing Nantucket with the locals was an experience that no money could ever buy me. Although some of the classes and practices were weird, I absolutely loved every single moment of my time there. The best thing about the school was the people, you guys are so fantastic and welcoming, so thank you all for giving me and my classmates one of the best trips we could imagine.”|
|Mariam: “I just want to say that you guys have the best food. I would be so fat if I lived here.”|
By Mookie Richards