BETHEL — Chodchuang “Shawn” Nanthasen liked his experience so much as a foreign exchange student last year that he decided to return so he can graduate from Telstar High School in June.

“I like the people here, the teachers and the school system. They help me out a lot,” he said between broad smiles Thursday afternoon.

Returning to the district as an independent foreign student was a whole new experience for not only Shawn, as he likes to be called, but also for high school Principal Dan Hart as they worked for nearly six months to get him a visa.

“We had to have an FBI agent come in and survey the school, to make sure we were certified,” Hart said.

Shawn, now 18, attended Telstar during school year 2009-10, then returned to his home in Bangkok, Thailand. He decided he liked the rural countryside much better than a big city so he began the process to get a visa so he could return.

He returned to Telstar about a week ago.

“I live in the city, but I like the nature, seeing the animals. It’s relaxing,” he said.

Hart said Shawn became very involved during the last school year in many activities, including chorus, drama, basketball and track. He was also a good student.

Shawn was Student of the Month for the school last May.

Although his visa allows him to stay in this country only through June, Shawn plans to return again to attend college. So far, he has applied to the University of Maine and plans to apply to other Maine schools before the end of the year.

He’s already involved in the activities at Telstar. During next week’s Winter Carnival, he plans to sing and play his bass saxophone.

For Supatach “Ja” Vadhanachai, 17, a 2010-11 foreign exchange student, having Shawn at the school is a big help. The two boys from the same country have a chance to talk in their native language.

One of Ja’s main goals while at Telstar is to improve his English. So far, all has gone well and he is maintaining his studies.

Although Ja does not not plan to return to Telstar or attend undergraduate college in the United States, he does plan to return when he goes for a master’s degree. He wants to do the same thing that his dad did, which was attend a college in Missouri.

Shawn couldn’t be more pleased to be in Bethel, he said.

“I’m so happy to be back here. Living here is my dream,” he said.

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