High School 6,927 Miles Away From Home

You know him, you love him. Introducing Dowling’s very own, Roger Weng


Roger Weng

Dowling Catholic exchange student Roger Weng (12).

Caroline Schultz, Staff Writer

High school is a defining period of any teenager’s life. Between forming new relationships, balancing academics and activities, uncovering new passions, and discovering oneself,  navigating these critical four years is not always easy for the average high school student. However, Roger Weng (12) is hardly the average high school student. Weng moved to the United States from Shanghai, China as a foreign exchange student and is one semester away from completing his high school career, 6,927 miles away from home. Weng has not just survived the last four years as a foreign exchange student, but excelled. 


Four years ago, Weng and his family made the daunting decision to enroll at Dowling Catholic due to his lively persona in and out of the classroom as well as a way to explore new cultures. 


“I am quite a dynamic student, and I love to develop a variety of skills and activities. Unfortunately, Chinese education mostly focuses on academic study, so I couldn’t really reach my full potential, so I came to America to explore what I can do. Also, because I grew up with a lot of western influence, my family and I decided it would be best for me to be an exchange student,” Weng said. 


Outside of the classroom, Weng seized every opportunity in front of him and joined every club he could. However, marching band has a special place in his heart.


Roger Weng (12) with Rachel Heaston (12) at the annual Madrgial Dinner.

“By far, I would say, my favorite [activity] is marching band because I have a lot of memories there,” Weng said.


When asked about his time here at Dowling Catholic, Weng couldn’t say enough about his enjoyable high school journey. He attributed his success to the welcoming students and helpful faculty here at Dowling. 


“Can I say more than one? First of all, I love most of the people here. I came here knowing nobody, but a lot of the students here welcomed me with open hearts and accepted who I am. I love most of the faculties here too, they have very caring personalities and I enjoy talking with them, plus they give good lessons,” Weng said.


Weng also appreciated the religious aspect of attending a Catholic school and has become a person of faith as a result. 


“I loved the faith journey provided by Dowling, I came in here as a non-Catholic. Under the influence of my friends, faculties, and masses, I started to have second thoughts about Catholicism. After going to the Kairos retreat two weeks ago, I was more certain about my goals and faith journey and decided to practice Catholicism,” Weng said. 


Along with attending a school in a new country, Weng also had to adapt to life away from his family. However, he boasted that living with a host family is simply having a home away from home. 


“It’s like having a second family who loves you tons. I enjoyed how they loved me, and I enjoyed different dinner talks every night about current events, what happened in school, and what’s going on in their lives. It is interesting to learn their perspectives on different topics with their wisdom and knowledge. I can also share my emotional feelings with them when I am stressed or depressed. I had a lot of good memories here,” Weng said. 


Although Weng’s high school journey has been a happy one, he shares that it isn’t always easy to be an exchange student.


“It was daunting at first since I knew no one when I came here, which means I had no friends to talk to during school. I would have to make new friends. But in general, it wasn’t too challenging for me since I grew up with a lot of western influences. However, I do know a lot of students have difficulty understanding the cultural differences between American and Chinese, which leads to a harder time adapting,” Weng said. 


Weng has had such a pleasant experience in America that he plans to further his education in the United States. 


“I plan to attend college in America, mostly on the East Coast. I have applied to colleges like Georgetown, NYU, and Boston University. I am planning on going into a business major or psychology major in the future,” Weng said.


If Weng could re-live his high school experience, he would choose to be an exchange student without hesitation. 


“One of many reasons why I choose to be an exchange student is cultural diversity. After coming to America, I was able to learn more about my own country and perspective from Americans. I think this helps me to understand the differences in a variety of races and cultures, which helps me have more respect and understanding towards strangers. This is a different experience and something you will never be able to see if you stay in your own country,” Weng said.