Transferring to a new school during an individual’s high school career can be difficult for any student, but traveling to the United States from an entirely different world hemisphere is quite a different experience. Last year Milford High School (MHS) student Ethan Pellegrin, started his sophomore year with new faces and a different culture. Faced with several challenged, including the adjustment to some American mores, Ethan is now settling in as a Junior at MHS.
Originally born in England, Ethan has lived in the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa as he has received a truly international education. Attending his primary and secondary education in Australia, Ethan calls the Land Down Under his home. Beginning his initial day of class at Milford in 2012, he was introduced to his first day of high school on Wacky Tacky Day, a day during MHS’s Homecoming celebration week were students dress in unflattering attire on purpose.
“I have been accustomed to wearing a uniform to school in Australia and was confused about what the students were wearing on my first day,” commented Ethan as he spoke of being unaware of the unusual Homecoming traditions. “I was nervous already starting with all new students but after a few minutes everyone started talking to me and asking about Australia.” Among Ethan’s favorite questions from MHS students were whether he rode a kangaroo to school and if he had internet in Australia. The immediate questioning from the students was familiar to Ethan as he remembers asking similar questions to students from the United States while attending a school in South Africa.
Joining the Milford High School Football team, Ethan noticed a change from how sports were approached in his American school versus his schools in Australia. He claims that the students at MHS are much more serious about sports as they practice on a daily basis.
“Sports in Australia are much more leisurely,” commented Ethan. “We may practice three days a week and have a game on the weekends, not every single day. It has been challenging for me to adjust but I like it.”
One adjustment in the classroom that Ethan had to make from his first year at Milford High was the procedure in which students are graded for their academic work throughout the year. Familiar with being graded only three times throughout the school year, as teachers grade online portfolios students create themselves of daily tasks, Ethan found it confusing that students had to turn in every worksheet they completed on a daily basis. He could not understand how he was doing all of the work and saving it to his portfolio but receiving less than good marks in class. According to Ethan, after the cultural differnce was recognized and explained, he was able to show his teachers the work he had saved all year on his online portfolio.
“School in the U.S. is much more robotic,with assigned seating and having to turn in assignments every day,” stated Ethan. Likening his former school in Australia to American universities, he commented that “at home it is up to the students to follow the curriculum and keep track of what we have learned, which we receive grades on three times a year.”
Pellegrin’s American Literature teacher, Ms. Erin Williams, states that Ethan offers a different and fresh perspective to the lessons of American history through literature in her class. Asking questions about who won the American Civil War or where the state of Mississippi is located not only feeds Ethan’s knowledge but others as well.
“Ethan offers a different cultural perspective surrounding the events we study,” commented Ms. Williams. “I also enjoy having him in class because he will ask questions that maybe other students are unaware of and many times are too afraid to ask in front of their peers.”
After Milford High School Pellegrin would like to attend the United States Naval Academy to study Economics and Phycology and desires a future as a Special Warfare Operator as a Navy SEAL. While still in high school, Ethan would like to learn even more about the history, culture, food and geography of the United States.