The world got smaller Sunday morning when 11 students from a school in Singapore arrived to spend two weeks experiencing life in Westport.
After disembarking from their bus at Staples High School Sunday morning to meet host families, the high school-age visitors will attend classes and after-school activities, as well as sample a range of other typical pastimes, such as bowling and a Knicks basketball game.
"The focus is for them to come and experience what it's like to be an American student," said Maria Zachery, Staples' department chairwoman for world language, explaining that the Hwa Chong Institution the students attend is reputed to be as fine as Staples.
"I feel very fortunate," said Xinyi Yang, 15, who said he found exciting the view of the Manhattan skyline as the group traveled in from the airport.
"It feels very different," said Wan Jie Lim, 16. "The streets here are much wider and the houses are so different."
Following the 20-hour flight from Singapore to New York, the group was still getting acclimated when they arrived in Westport. The families, however, some of whom had prepared signs of welcome, were poised to help their guests get adjusted.
"I think it's great for the kids to experience," said Diane Tanner. "It makes the world a smaller place."
She said her son, Colton, 15, and their guest, Jaron Cheung, 16, have already been communicating about basketball via Facebook.
"We're delighted to host the students," said Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon. "It's the start of further enhancing our relationship with the Hwa Chong school."
Ed Nebens said his family had such a good experience hosting a girl from Israel last year, his daughter, Sydney, 14, motivated the family to host Xinyi Yang.
"I think they made a real connection," he said, and in fact the family will be visiting her abroad this winter.
"It was a real awesome experience," Sydney said.
Warren Schoor, 18, was one of two Westport students who traveled to Singapore last year to attend school for two weeks. "Me and Jack Cody," he said. "We were the two kids from Connecticut who went. It was awesome."
Now Schoor's family was pleased to host 16-year-old Hao Wei Goh at their home. "It's really an honor," the visitor said.
"It's a change of pace," Staples student Sam Gasway, 16, said of having an exchange student stay at his family's home.
"It's nice that the world is finally getting smaller and we can learn about other cultures," he said.