By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff
Each year, a handful of students from around the world travel to West Bend to learn in the local schools, take part in traditions, and pick up on little Americanisms. This includes the revered customs that are held close by many citizens, and proudly echo through school walls across the nation every day.
But how do these foreign students, loyal to their own nations, feel when placed in a classroom with 30 Americans reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? The West Bend Current set out to get an answer.
“I just stand up out of respect, but I don’t say it,” said Alberto Loro, a student from Italy. Loro happens to live in a family with another exchange student, Nick Leuthold from Switzerland. Leuthold stated that he also stands but doesn’t recite, although he was required by his exchange program to learn the words before coming to West Bend.
Loro came through the same program but said he never had to learn the pledge.
Fabian Nöesges, a German student, also stands for the pledge. When asked if he knew the words, Nöesges began reciting the first line, and was shocked by the end, when he found he had it perfectly memorized.
“Oh my God, I know that!,” he said. “I’m surprised I know it.”
Nöesges told the Current that his country does a national anthem in a similar way to America, but does not have a pledge. “I feel like it’s good that everyone should know it, and should be thankful for their country,” he said.
“I’m surprised I know [the Pledge of Allegiance].”
– Fabian Nöesges, German exchange student
Felix Reckmann, another student from Germany, agrees that it’s good. “Well, it’s more like everyone likes their country so I understand it. Maybe I’ll do it one day as well,” Reckmann said. He doesn’t think it’s overly patriotic, but rather, “It’s what the U.S. is.”
Loro said that American pride is very unusual compared to views in his own country. When asked if Italy had a pledge, Loro answered, “No we don’t… we don’t like our country as much. In Italy there’s not [patriotism.]”
Although being exposed to so much patriotism is different for Loro, he thinks it is a positive thing. “I like this American patriotism, it’s cool. It’s a point of strength of the U.S., I think.”
That was the common theme among the students interviewed. Most said that their own countries do not display patriotism the same way the United States does, yet don’t find the American traditions strange or excluding.
When asked if he ever felt out of place during the daily custom, Leuthold said, “No, not at all.”
(Top image: Alberto Loro, exchange student from Italy, stands for the Pledge of Allegiance during his first period AP Physics class. Photograph by Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff.)