Shelby: Hey, guys! We are driving to Newcomb, NY. It is a five-hour road trip from New York City, and we are going there because each year, students from all over the world leave home and come to school in this tiny little town. We are not really sure why, so we are going to find out.
At first, Newcomb looks a lot like your typical school.
Principal Hults: This is the auditorium.
Shelby: But there are a few things that make Newcomb unique, like it is located in a town of just a few hundred people; it is open for students from kindergarten all the way through twelfth grade, and there is no cell phone service within miles. But despite its rural location, Newcomb attracts students from countries near and far.
Principal Hults: We’ve had students from Japan, from Korea, from Thailand. We’ve had students from Switzerland, we’ve had students from France, we’ve had students from Australia.”
Shelby: So, you have had them from all over.
Principal Hults: We’ve, literally, had them from all over the world.
Shelby: Principal Hults launched the International Program five years ago as a way to keep the school alive. With just fifty-five kids in grades k-12, Newcomb didn’t have enough students to stay open.
Principal Hults: I think the students, when they first hear about Newcomb, they get really nervous. They Google it and see that it’s in the middle of the woods. But when they come, they have such a great experience that they go back and tell other people, and the word gets out. And we’re becoming more and more popular as a destination.
Shelby: Since its start, Newcomb has brought in forty-one international students from twenty-three different countries. And the International Program has also attracted students from other schools in the area.
Student: I came from another school, and there have been, like, two or three other kids who came here this year from other schools. And I just don’t think they’d have that draw they have now without the international students. And it just adds another aspect to the school.
Shelby: This fall, Newcomb began classes with ninety-four students, almost double the size of the student body in 2007. Eleven of them are exchange students, like Luiza Monten.
So, you are an 11th grader at Newcomb. Why did you come here?
Luiza: Because I was, like, having a hard time in my Brazilian school, and I always wanted to do an exchange program.
Shelby: Just like their American peers, the international students attend classes, join clubs and play sports.
What are some things you can do here that you can’t do in Brazil?
Luiza: Play soccer. I didn’t play soccer in Brazil.
Shelby: And just like their American peers, they have chores, homework and a family dinner to go home to.
International student: I told him it goes on the opposite side of the fork!
Shelby: In Korea, do you do the fork and the knife, or is it different?
International student: Same! It’s the same.
Shelby: Trying new foods, speaking a new language and learning a new culture are just some of the benefits. And the international students also give back. Not only do they pay tuition and housing stipends, but they bring their cultures, religions and world views to this small New York town.
Student: I’ve only been coming here for three years but I’ve met people from like twelve or thirteen different countries all around the world. And it’s just an experience you don’t get anywhere else.
Principal Hults: I think our kids understand a little bit more what the world is like. You know they’re going to be able to welcome people of other cultures, other faiths, other colors; and welcome them as a part of their life. And they’re going to look back at their time here and realize this is where it all began.
Shelby: Newcomb might be a small school, but as the saying goes, it is a small world after all.
Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.