PATEROS - While students flew right into summer, Pateros High School junior Ethan Williams continued his studies thousands of miles away.

Williams, 16, traveled to Pateros, The Philippines, in June for two and a half weeks as an exchange student.

“It was really a breathtaking experience overall,” he said.

The opportunity was presented after Pateros organized an exchange program with its sister city, Pateros, The Philippines. The sister city agreement was signed 2013 during the Apple Pie Jamboree.

Former Mayor Gail A. Howe and Mayor Joey C. Medina of Pateros, The Philippines, organized the student exhange. It originally was planned for last summer, but was postponed because of the Carlton Complex fire.

Williams was welcomed into Medina’s home. He visited three high schools and several elementary schools.

The first thing he experienced was an earthquake drill, he said.

Elementary students greeted him into their culture with a celebratory introduction, which included a traditional Filipino folk dance and a slideshow about local customs. Williams studied several subjects, including dancing and home economics, while interacting with students, teachers and principals.

He visited many historical houses, a beautiful resort called Graceland and an art gallery by a famous local artist, he said.

Attending a theater and walking through a mall were also on the itinerary.

“They make very large malls over there because of the high population density,” Williams said.

He said the most valuable experience was generosity among the Filipino culture.

“Just on the street passing by, people would be very gracious and helpful if we were asking for directions,” he said. “It just showed the patchwork community and how it fit together.”

Williams encourages other students to travel abroad “to expand their palette of what they understand. How humans interact is something I think is very important.”

Pateros School District is working on having students from The Philippines visit for a week.

“We welcome the Filipino students and are hoping this will transpire,” Superintendent Lois Davies said.

Williams, who lives in Brewster, is taking online classes through the Running Start program at Wenatchee Valley College this fall.

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