Following in the footsteps of her four siblings, Belén Jadue is one of many exchange students at Sequim High School this year.
Jadue, 17, is from Santiago, Chile, and said she wanted to venture into an exchange student program as many of her family members have done.
“My brothers and sisters went to be an exchange student and they had a good experience,” Jadue said.
The youngest of her siblings, Jadue said two of them have been exchange students in the U.S. and she wanted to study in America, too.
Jadue was able to participate as an exchange student through the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange Program.
She said before she came to Sequim she was nervous of what high school would be like in the U.S. after some of the movies she has seen.
“Every time I see American movies with cheerleaders I’m so afraid, because of the people,” she said. “But the people here are so nice and friendly.”
Jadue arrived in August and will be an exchange student for one year. She will stay with four different host families and is living with her first host family Andrea and Ron Gilles until after Thanksgiving.
She attends her classes Monday through Friday and said she has enjoyed the opportunity to choose some of the subjects she wants to study, such as photography, sports and fashion marketing and cooking.
“I like the education here,” Jadue said. “I can choose my classes.”
She said in her schooling back home she is not able to select any of the classes she wants to study. History and English are some of her favorite subjects to study, she said.
Jadue said Sequim High is much smaller than her school in Santiago and that her school year at home starts in March and ends in November.
In the future, Jadue said she would like to either become a lawyer or a commercial engineer. She has one semester left of schooling in Santiago and needs to take a test for university.
Outside of school, Jadue said she enjoys playing soccer — where she has met other exchange students and friends in Sequim — and cheerleading.
She said in her free time back home she enjoys hanging out with friends and her sisters, going to the mall, movie theaters and having family celebrations.
“I live in a big city in Chile,” Jadue said.
“In my city, we have more than 30 malls or more and 7 million people living in Santiago.”
She said in Santiago people are very friendly, there is a lot of traffic, smog, and several different landscapes.
Jadue said the seasons are opposite in Santiago than in Sequim, for example back home it is the start of the summer season.
“It’s so weird because the Christmas in Chile it’s hot,” Jadue said.
“I like the snow here,” she said. “I took a lot of pictures.”
She said with her time in the U.S. she wants to learn more about American culture and English. She will be visiting Los Angeles and Disneyland soon and hopes to visit New York, too.
As she learns more about American culture, Jadue said she wants people in the U.S. to know more about her home country.
“I would like people to know more about Chile,” she said.
Colleen Robinson, Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club member and youth exchange officer said the Rotary recently brought back its Youth Exchange Program after it stopped five to six years ago.
Robinson said Rotary members were confident after reviewing Jadue’s application that she would be a good fit for the program and said she has exceeded their expectations.
“A wonderful young women with a great personality, a beautiful heart and so much fun!” Robinson said.