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Trenton has become American home to foreign Exchange Teachers

The City of Trenton has become the new hometown for three foreign exchange teachers. Sam Bathula and Abhilash Rajan are both teachers from India, while Jelina Edodollon is from the Philippines. All three teachers joined the J-1 program which is for non-US citizens with teaching experience who want to learn about and teach abroad in United States classrooms. While in this country they can better understand the American education system and share their culture with their American students and the teachers they teach with.
Christie McElroy of Trenton, hired the group of teaches to work at Ruth Rains Middle School in Cross City. McElroy is the principal at the school and was having a hard time filling positions for math and science. She feels that the new teachers have made a positive impact on the school and the students.
Sam Bathula teaches 7th and 8th grade math at the school. He has been teaching for 23 years and has a degree in theology as well as education. This is Bathula’s second assignment teaching in the U.S. He first taught in South Carolina between 2007-2011. He has also taught in China at an international school. He said that the international school in China had students from many nations around the world. He said he enjoyed learning about the students and their country as well as their culture. Bathula said, “It is a wonderful community here and I love teaching in the classroom.” Since moving to the area he has begun attending church with Michael and Christie McElroy at Cherry Sink Church of Christ.
Jelina Edodollon came to the area to teach 6th and 7th grade math at Ruth Rains Middle School. She taught last year in South Carolina. She said while growing up in the Philippines she attended a Catholic school there. Miss E, as her students call her, said, “Teaching really fits me, I grew up in a family of teachers.” She went on to say that she tells her students Math is a universal language. Miss E plans to share all she has learned about K-12 curriculum in the United States when she returns to her home country. She said she is looking forward to a productive school year and she really enjoys the process of watching her students learn. Since moving to Trenton she has been attending Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville with her friend and fellow teacher Abhilash Rajan.
Abby as his students call Abhilash Rajan said that he taught in Maldives for several years before coming here. Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean composed of many small islands. He said that teaching there was quite an adjustment because of the differences in culture and food. He said Islam is the state religion of Maldives which is quite different from his home country of India where about 80 percent of the people are Hindus. While living there he felt compelled to hide his Bible while meeting in secret with a handful of friends for Bible study. During that time Abby prayed and remembered the Bible verse, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
He said it was easy to adjust to living in the U.S. because of the hospitality of the people here. He plans to take that same hospitality back to his students in India, showing them it is a good thing to be friendly.
He went on to say that he enjoys teaching the students at Ruth Rains Science. He said his students love to do research and they learn a great deal while researching. While speaking about the two countries he has lived in since becoming an international teacher, Abby said, “I value the exchange of cultures and believe that it is the best practice.”
Each of the teachers are hoping that they will be asked back to teach at Ruth Rains again next year. In the mean time, they plan to continue to enjoy living in Trenton, their new American hometown.

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