Aspiring Diplomat Represents Georgia as a Foreign Exchange Student in America


Photo by: Saba Gagoshidze

Elaina Plankey and Lindsey Jones

Foreign exchange student from Tbisil, Georgia Saba Gagoshidze embarks on a journey of cultural immersion. He is spending his junior year studying abroad in America here at NHS.

With preference to his first name, Saba is ecstatic about this opportunity, to find new experiences and connections in an unfamiliar setting. 

Being submerged in a new culture is sink or swim. Drastic differences in schooling are among one of a myriad of culture shocks: “School is a place there — where you. . . don’t want to go.” 

Classes are not selected by choice but assigned. School spirit is frankly — dead. Organized school sports back in Georgia aren’t widely available.

 America is a new chapter in Saba’s life, facing him with nothing but new left and right. The Wisconsin weather and the time differences have also been an adjustment for Saba, “In three hours it’s going to be midnight in my country, but it’s still going to be two times warmer than here.”

The city of Tbilisi is strikingly disparate from Neenah. Scholastic cultural database CultureGrams records approximately 1.1 million residents compacted into the city of Tbilisi at an area of 200.3 square miles. In contrast, the area of Neenah is 9.61 square miles, with a 27,525 population count according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020.

Without the hustle and bustle of city life, Saba is adjusting to the seemingly quiet town of Neenah. Luckily the Brackins, his host family, is a source of constant support.

Saba expresses their support as nothing but amazing and he truly appreciates the generosity and kindness. The Brackins do this not for profit, but because they have an interest in Saba’s culture.

Saba has a passion for politics.

Ever since his youth, Saba has had the dream of becoming a diplomat for his home country. In a way, he has already accomplished this goal.

“What I’m doing here is being a young diplomat of my country.”

Representing his culture, traditions and people. In learning the culture of America, but also spreading his own culture to his new peers; he is chasing his own American Dream.

To further invest in his future in politics, Saba is applying for an opportunity offered by his Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX). The chances are low, but not impossible. The odds of becoming an exchange student were less than a percent to begin with.

If selected, Saba would take a trip to Washington Hill for a conference with other exchange students. This would bring Saba ever closer to his dream of becoming a Georgian diplomat. 

Being a foreign exchange student is not always the easiest, but Saba Gagoshidze appreciates the challenge. With new opportunities and the support of his host family and peers, he is ready to see what else Wisconsin has to offer.