This year, St. Martin’s Episcopal School developed the Ambassadors Club to improve the inter- national program in the upper school. The mission of the club is to help the international students adjust to the St. Martin’s community and also for local students to learn about different cultures. The club was founded by Upper School French Teacher and ELL Department Chair Cissy Rowley and Director of International Student Program Jennifer Wang.
“As a French teacher, I spent time in France," Rowley said. “It was such an enriching experience to be an exchange student, so I’ve always liked working with students from different countries.”
The club dynamic is very laid-back. The club meets once a month for entertaining activities that teach the students about foreign cultures.
“We did a ‘hot pot’ in October, which is a Chinese dish that includes noodles, meat, and vegetables,” Rowley said.
Senior Sam Jin is an international student and a member of the Ambassadors Club. This is his second year at St. Martin’s, and he enjoys the club’s activities that celebrate various holiday seasons, such as a pumpkin carving on Halloween and a Thanksgiving lunch in November.
“We hold activities together to experience different cultures, and people’s relationships usually get better,” Jin said. “Everyone enjoys being a part of the club.”
Wang is excited about the club’s potential because of the interest coming from the upper school—37 members showed up to the hot pot cooking party. She is working on expanding the international program in upcoming years, a process that has already begun with the addition of two Honduran students. The Ambassadors Club helps to ease some of the homesickness students may experience from being away from their family for so long.
“From the academic side, the international students are doing very well,” Wang said. “But from the social side, there are some problems because they are far away from their home, family and friends and can easily feel lonely.”
Rowley reached out to Junior Evan McCollum to help develop the club since he had prior experience with hosting international students and was interested in foreign languages. The goal of the club is to extend advice and guidance to the international students in hopes of preparing them to succeed in the American high school setting. “We are answering any questions that they might have about America and St. Martin’s culture,” McCollum said. “We are giving them a friend that they can approach at all times, and hopefully they can branch out to the rest of the St. Martin's community."