A whole new experience [UPDATED]Published 11:53am Wednesday, October 2, 2013 Updated 8:12pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
For kids just learning about homecoming week, the Norwegian exchange students at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, including junior Andreas Aurlien, have jumped in head-first.
“It’s really nice to be a part of this culture and take a look at how Americans do these things,” Aurlien said.
Homecoming week at Hillcrest kicked off Monday with an eight-team volleyball tournament, including one team made up entirely of Norwegian boys. The team came in third place, the highest finish faculty member and homecoming advisor Gaylen Peterson can remember for a Norwegian team.
Tuesday was “Too Formal” day at the school, where students were encouraged to wear their fanciest duds. All 28 of the Norwegian students at Hillcrest participated.
Looks like they picked up the homecoming thing quickly.
Live Gilje, a junior at Hillcrest, said it has been good for the exchange students to have homecoming week so early in the school year.
“You kind of get the sense of school spirit and then you can take that with you for the rest of the year, instead of getting it in the end and thinking, ‘Oh, but our school is so cool, why are we leaving?’” Gilje said.
Norwegian students come to Hillcrest each year from Danielson High School in Bergen, Norway. This year’s group is split evenly along gender lines, with 14 boys and 14 girls.
Gilje and Aurlien both play varsity soccer, one of the big draws of homecoming week. The girls and boys teams have home games on Thursday and Saturday this week, just a few of the several Hillcrest sports teams playing this week.
The importance of high school sports, especially during homecoming week, was completely new to Gilje and Aurlien. In Norway, high schoolers do not play on school teams; rather, they join one of several club teams in their town.
This school spirit was new to both students, but the widespread influence of American culture had a hand in preparing them for the week.
“We’ve seen movies and stuff like that, so that was pretty much what we had to go on,” Gilje said.
Both Gilje and Aurlien have sisters who participated in the exchange program six years ago, so they were also a bit more personally familiar with homecoming.
The enthusiasm of the Norwegian students can be felt throughout the entire school, according to student body president Daniel Nersten.
“You can tell that they’re going all-out,” Nersten said. “All of them are dressing up and it looks like they are having a lot of fun.”
The experience not only makes homecoming week more fun, but also forms a long-term bond between the exchange students. Back at Danielson, Gilje and Aurlien have both observed the returning students from Hillcrest forming a tight-knit group. The two can already see the same thing happening with their group.
As a faculty member, Peterson has been able to observe the Norwegian students for many years. This year’s group ranks right up there with the best when it comes to getting involved in homecoming festivities and making themselves a part of the school.
“There’s no doubt there’s buy-in,” Peterson said. “It gets everyone fired up. I love having them as part of our activities.”