Foreign Exchange 2021-2022 — An Exchange of Culture!

Featuring Jasper Sandvoss and Emilie Decker


Jasper Sandvoss at the El Capitan Theater.

A tradition held at Lompoc High for many years is the Foreign Exchange Student Program, which persists to the present day. Every year through an agency near them, Seniors from different countries apply for a year long trip to the United States. They transfer through an association separate from their high school, to experience a full school year in the U.S. The deciding factors for this trip are the school policies for foreign exchange students and the availability of host families near the schools. So far, we have 5 new exchange students, but many others have joined the LHS family altogether since August. Recently I interviewed two of the foreign exchange students to gather insight on their U.S. journey and Lompoc High experience. 

First Jasper Sandvoss, a senior from Germany, enlightened us on his experience with his school, sports, friends, and journey. He chose to travel to the U.S because of his fascination with the United States, his urge to improve his English skills, and his curiosity about new cultures. When getting further in depth about his attraction to the U.S, he expressed his thoughts on the beauty of California and Lompoc High specifically. In Germany, traditionally the schools are mostly indoors and all in one building, but here at LHS we have multiple buildings and outside hallways because of the climate. In Germany the weather changes often, but in California it doesn’t drastically change much and Jasper prefers that for the football season. When I asked Jasper about his favorite thing at LHS, he said that it was the spirit and sports events. Jasper has joined the Lompoc High Varsity football team and shared that some of his favorite moments so far have been the school pride, school events, and school friends on the team. According to Jasper, Germany is quite the opposite of Lompoc High and his involvement so far has truly given him the best California experience.

Then, when speaking to Emilie Decker, another Senior from Germany, I found his opinion to be quite different from Jasper’s. Emilie’s motive for coming to the U.S. was her desire to become more confident with problem solving and really build her independence. She thought coming to the mainland was the best solution for that. Emilie had also shared that this trip was all about her getting out of her comfort zone and trying new things. So, she followed through when making new friends and getting involved in school activities (which later paid off because she now cherishes and enjoys everything she has tried so far). Emilie has made many friends on the Tennis team and in some of her favorite classes.

 She explained that her favorite classes were Marine Science and U.S. History, since they are not offered in Germany. All of her teachers have been very kind to her. While her experience was similar to Jasper’s in the expansion of her horizons and her acquisition of friends, Emilie’s journey focused more on academics. When wrapping up the interview she mentioned that her experience at LHS has been wonderful so far and she can’t wait to experience many more things throughout the school year.

Having the Foreign Exchange Student Program at Lompoc High has been an incredible tradition and has given the opportunity for indulgence in different cultures, not only academically, but behaviorally. It also contributes to increasing our school/community appreciation. We get to understand foreign exchange students’ culture while they learn about ours. If you’re interested in being a part of their journey, introduce yourself to a foreign exchange student and make them feel more comfortable in our atmosphere while also engaging in theirs.