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International Exchange Students Further Diversify Deerfield Campus
jade kasoff 11 staff writer
April 22, 2009



Mary Yamada comes to Deerfield from a very different private school in Tokyo, Japan. Yamada described the academic environment of her school in Tokyo as being characterized by note-taking and memorizing and consisting of lecture-based classes which average thirty students. She noted that discussions between students and teachers at her school “are rare occurrences.”

Every year, two students from her school are selected, after taking a competitive test, to go to two different American schools. Yamada’s father and sister both participated in this program, and therefore knew that this would be a valuable opportunity.

“I’ve always wanted to come to America,” Yamada said, “I wanted to come here so that I could learn English better and experience a different culture.”

Her favorite class is Latin American History with Conrad Pitcher because she has never studied the subject before.

After school, Yamada participates in the co-curricular dance program. She has been dancing since kindergarten and has had training in jazz, hip-hop, and ballet. But even the language of dance varies geographically, so the experience is somewhat new for her.

Yamada expressed her excitement at being at Deerfield: “I like it a lot here. I think going to school here full-time would be nice.”


Tabea Breternitz ’10 hails from a Round Square boarding school in Germany which has many similarities to Deerfield. Like Deerfield, she explained, students live in dorms and have check-ins; however, like Yamada’s school, classes are less discussion-based. She remarks, “Sitting around a round table and just talking throughout a whole class is definitely new to me.”

Breternitz was inspired to apply for the exchange program after a friend made a presentation about his experience in a U.S. school last year.Acceptance to this program in her school is based on class ranking, so her parents were extremely excitedwhen she was admitted.

Although this is not Breternitz’s first visit to the U.S., she continues to be struck by the cultural differences. She reflected, “We have this idea that in America a beggar can become a millionaire… sort of the American dream thing. ”

In Germany, Breternitz’s main sport is field hockey, but because she is only here for the spring term, she is trying dance for the first time.

Breternitz remarked that her favorite subject is history with Julia McCombs, describing her teacher as “very funny and enthusiastic.”

And indeed, Breternitz is adjusting to Deerfield life both inside and outside the classroom.

“The people here are all very open and helpful.” she said.