GW welcomes students excited to experience high school in America

Kaede Ikeyama and Pimthanika Sangworatham arrived in Danville in August from Japan and Thailand, respectively, excited to embrace a new culture


Romello Ferrell

Juniors Kaede Ikeyama and Pimthanika Sangworatham have joined the GW family for the 2019-2020 school year, both excited to experience what it is really like to attend high school in America.

Janiya Lewis, Editor in Chief

Two students arriving from outside of the United States joined the Eagle’s Nest in August. Joining the ranks late in the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year, Juniors Kaede Ikeyama and Pimthanika Sangworatham came to Danville to experience what it is really like to attend high school in America.

Arriving after a 20-hour flight from Kobe, Japan, Ikeyama, a 16-year-old Japanese student, said she came to the states to improve her English skills.

Ikeyama said the school system in Danville differs greatly from her old school in Japan, because it did not allow the students the freedom GW does.

“We wore uniforms at my old school,” Ikeyama said. “Regular clothes were not allowed. We also could not use our cell phones or have any drinks out during class. It is a relief that I get to have more privileges here than I did back at home.”

Also braving a 20-hour flight from her native country of Thailand, 16-year-old  Sangworatham said her favorite part about being in the program is tasting foods that are not normally served in Thailand.

“I like the cheeseburgers here,” Sangworatham said. “It’s my favorite so far because it tastes really good and it was the first thing I tried when I got here.”

The two students live together in a house with six others, with both students describing their living arrangements as comfortable and cozy.

While excited to learn more about American, the pair said adjusting to a new society is quite difficult because their home countries are different in so many ways, including their methods of transportation.

“We had to use public transportation in Japan,” Ikeyama said. “We didn’t use cars very much as we do here. I have to keep asking my American family to use theirs.”

In addition to their core classes, Ikeyama and Sangworatham have both joined several elective classes including parenting and publications graphics.

Yearbook Adviser Steven Walton said he has enjoyed having the pair in his third period class, and is honored to be a part of their educational journey.

“This experience is very exciting,” Walton said. “Not only will they get to know our country better, but it will make the other wonderful students curious about what the teenagers in their land like to do.”