DIXFIELD — Sung-Jun “William” Park and Fukiu “Alvin” Ng are looking forward to graduating with the Class of 2013 at Dirigo High School in June.

The South Korean and Hong Kong foreign-exchange students like the school, are impressed by the United States, and both want to attend college in this country.

They are two of the five foreign-exchange students hosted by Dirigo this school year.

Also attending the Dixfield high school are Caroline Markmann and Kristina Feige, from Germany, and Tammy Ricardo, Brazil.

Ng, 18, wants to major in music and drama in college, subjects that aren’t often offered in his home country.

And he also likes the United States and the Dixfield area.

“Here it is quiet. Hong Kong is a city,” he said.

Park hopes to major in mechanical engineering and attend a college in the Midwest, then go to work for the auto industry.

He believes he will receive a better education in the United States than back home.

All four students were struck by the size of this country.

“It is so big,” Feige said.

She has traveled to many countries in Europe and Asia, but had never been to the United States.

“I’ve heard so much about the United States. I wanted to see it,” Feige said.

Markmann, 16, said she, too, wants to learn about another culture. She said she wants to be a travel agent.

All four also want to improve their English.

“You can get a better job if you know English,” Markmann said.

Schools are very different in the United States than in each of the young people’s home countries.

Here, a variety of activities are offered at the school. At home, if a student wants to play basketball, as Ng does, or participate in musical performances, such activities take place off-campus and not during the school week.

Markmann and Feige have been cheerleaders for the first time.

“I like the school spirit,” said Feige, as well as seeing the same people outside of school.

Both Park and Ng are musicians who will participate in the annual Maine All State performances. Ng, in the chorus, and Park as a flutist in the orchestra.

Ng is also taking advantage of the performing arts opportunities in the area. He is taking dance lessons at a local studio, and is looking for a piano teacher to help him improve his skill on that instrument.

Ricardo was not available on Monday. She and Markmann are both living with the same host family in Dixfield. Park and Ng are staying with a Mexico family, and Freige is with a Peru family.

All five had a chance to go to the Fryeburg Fair, something none had experienced before in their own countries.

“I liked it so much,” Park said.

He was particularly surprised that students could have their own cars. In South Korea, no one is allowed to drive until they are 21, he said. And he likes that the teachers all encourage students in their studies.

Markmann fell in love with the pigs at the fair and wants to get one.

Each has spoken in various classes about their own cultures. But right now, they all want to learn more about Dixfield and the United States, and Dirigo High School.

“Here, we can have our own schedules,” Freige said.


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