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UPrep Hosts Students and Educators from Three Schools in Europe
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UPrep welcomed students and educators from France, Finland, and Lithuania this fall. In the photo above, UPrep students enjoy a meal with Finnish students.

UPrep Hosts Students and Educators from Three Schools in Europe
Global Link exchange visits connect UPrep to international partners

This fall, students and educators from UPrep’s international partner schools traveled to Seattle for a cultural exchange experience. Hosted by UPrep families and student ambassadors and supported by the Office of Global and Outdoor Education, Global Link exchange visits connect our community to our international partners, foster meaningful cross-cultural relationships, and reciprocate the hospitality UPrep receives during our travel programs. “Global Link is built on relationships, so we are delighted to host our longtime partners from Lithuania again and to welcome St. Pierre and Lukio Porkkalan to the UPrep community,” said Brian Gonzales, director of innovation and experiential education.

UPrep educators and educators from France in front of mission statementom

Educators Ed Billingslea, Kate Williams, Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau, the Puma, David Hersin, Karina Cousinard, and Brian Gonzales.

In October, we hosted two school leaders, Head of School David Hersin and Economics Teacher Karina Cousinard, from St. Pierre Middle and High School in Brieuc, France, UPrep’s newest Global Link partner. UPrep will welcome their students to our school next April and will send UPrep students to their community during the 2024–2025 academic year. David shared that UPrep students might be surprised by the rhythm of their school life. “The day starts at 8:00 a.m. and lasts until 5:00 p.m. Students are in class all day except for an hour break at lunch. There is not as much an emphasis on clubs, community time, and free discussion,” he said.

Karina noted that even though the school systems are different, there are still a lot of similarities. “After 3:00 p.m., students take classes like orchestra and video production,” she said. “Our students live similar lives, and we look forward to celebrating what we have in common along with our differences. We have the same dreams for our students, and we aim to develop our students’ potential to lead a life of learning.”

In early November, a group of students and teachers from Porkkalan High School in Kirkkonummi, Finland, visited the UPrep community for 12 days after they won a grant from their government to explore comparative politics in the United States. Visit highlights included cheering for our Pumas on the soccer sidelines and joining our Upper School students at a Model UN summit. Eleventh grade student Sohvi B. and her parents Tonjia and John hosted Finnish student Claudia during her stay.

Claudia, student from Finland and Sohvi, UPrep student

Claudia and Sohvi before they tour Washington on an aerial ride.

“We learned that doing the most mundane activities can be fun and interesting for someone who has never been to the U.S. before,” said Tonjia. “We loved showing Claudia some of our favorite places. Also, it was a great experience for Claudia to meet a political candidate and learn more about Washington state’s voting and election process.”

UPrep parent Greg Roth with Arnas, an exchange student from Lithuania

UPrep parent Greg Roth introduces Arnas to their morning routine of reading The New York Times

In late November, UPrep welcomed visitors from Žiburys Gymnasium, a high school in Prienai, Lithuania, to our community for 10 days. From attending classes on campus and performing a traditional Lithuanian dance for our students to visiting the University of Washington and learning about the Baltic Studies Program, it was a visit full of learning from and with each other. UPrep students will visit their school community in April. 

Sofia, a UPrep student, and Lithuanian student Elžbieta

Sofia and Elžbieta share a meal in West Seattle.

Tenth grade student Sofia P.-D. and her parents hosted Lithuanian student Elžbieta P.  “I’m an only child and it was fun to have someone around my age in my house for a longer period of time,” says Sofia. “One evening, we walked to Gasworks Park and saw South Lake Union and downtown lit up. The city was so pretty that night. I had never done that and they had never done that, obviously. That was an experience we both could share: seeing Seattle in a different light.”


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