Eleven Lynnwood High School students are on their way this week to visit Lynnwood’s sister city of Damyang, South Korea, where they will experience what high school is like in another country.
The students — all juniors and seniors — will spend the week dividing their time between Damyang and the South Korean capital, Seoul. This is the first exchange trip the Edmonds School District has organized through the city’s Sister City program with Damyang.
The student exchange program is a partnership between the City of Lynnwood Sister City Program, Lynnwood High School and the Lynnwood Sister Cities Association. Last fall, Lynnwood High School hosted a contingent of 18 Damyang High School students, a principal and four education officials, who visited the school during the school’s homecoming celebrations.
“The idea from the get-go was to connect students from both cities together through these exchange trips,” said Lynnwood High School Principal Mike Piper.
Piper said that the program’s goal was achieved and many of the students from both schools still remain in contact with each other. Piper will be accompanying the students, along with one parent and two members of the Lynnwood Sister City Association. Piper said he will also be bringing a box of gifts from Lynnwood students for their friends in Damyang.
During the first half of the trip, students will see what life is like for teenagers in South Korea, attending classes at Damyang High School with teens from their host families.
The trip will be a reunion for students who made friends when Damyang students visited Lynnwood. Many of the Lynnwood students will stay with host families of students who visited Lynnwood last October. Lynnwood High senior Danielle Cooper one of the students who will be staying with family of the exchange student her family hosted.
“I’m really excited to meet her family, because she talked a lot about her family,” she said. “And being able to meet her dog, because she met my dog.”
Additionally, Cooper said she is looking forward to learning more about the difference between the countries’ education systems, like Damyang’s 12-hour school days. She will also be celebrating her 18th birthday on the trip and said she has plans to celebrate with her host family.
Lynnwood High senior Cami Quinton said she is eager to learn more about the cultural differences between the countries, which had been pointed out by the exchange student she hosted.
“Things that are normal in my life — like everyday things we do here — are different there,” she said. “I’m excited to see the cultural aspects.”
While visiting Damyang, the students plan to put on customary performances that reflects American culture for Damyang officials and host families. Some students plan to sing, dance or play an instrument. The performance will include a group dance performed by all 11 students. The students are still working out the details of the group performance, but Cooper said it will probably be a choreographed dance like the Cha Cha Slide.
During the latter part of the trip, students will stay in a hotel in Seoul and spend a few days touring the city before returning to Lynnwood. While in Seoul, students will visit the Korean Folk Village, Seoul National Museum, Coex Aquarium, Samsung headquarters and the upscale Gangnam district. They will also visit the Demilitarized Zone near the borders of North and South Korea.
Though they will miss a week of school, students attending the trip will be able to earn credit for classes like social studies, civics and AP government, Piper said.
After they return, the students will attend a Lynnwood City Council meeting to present what they learned and experienced in Damyang.
–Story by Cody Sexton