Int'l Student Exchange Program Explores Columbia

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- An exchange program is showing the South Carolina way of life to international students.

The group has been traveling across the state for the past few weeks through a program with the Lion's Club and many say they have had wonderful experiences to share when they return to their home countries.

"I have enjoyed very much because this is a very beautiful city," said 16-year-old Ville Kockelainen of Finland.

About 14 international students paused in their discovery of the state to take in the sights at the South Carolina Governor's Mansion.

"I know I love to travel so it's been a good time for me," said 17-year-old Nesya Eskenazy of Turkey.

The students, ages 16 to 18, hail from across the globe, including places like Mongolia, France, Russia and Israel.

Many say South Carolina is much different from the cities and counties they come from.

"The food is very different. All of the nature. We don't have a lot of nature this style in Israel," said 16-year-old Tomer Rosenthal.

"People is so much friendlier in here. You can go talk with everybody and everybody is just like chilling it's really nice," said Ville Kockelainen.

The group spent time with host families and have also traveled to Carowinds, Charleston, Myrtle Beach and other locations. The group also toured the State House and met with Gov. Nikki Haley.

Jim Varn, who runs the Lion's Club Youth Exchange Program, say it allows students to see what like life is like in the U.S. and here in South Carolina.

"What's cools is it gives South Carolina the opportunity to showcase our great state to all over the world," said Varn.

Now, as their time in the states winds down, a few things will remain from the group's trip.

"Very good and new connections and something that will follow me for the rest of my life, friendships," Rosenthal.


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