OGDEN -- Foreign-exchange students typically visit other parts of the world to gain cultural experience and language skills.
But Victor Akuraga Shaakaa, who is a junior at Ben Lomond High School, wants to take the feeling of peace back home with him.
The 15-year-old native of Jalingo, Nigeria, said peace is something he could give his community in the form of seminars he'll teach on the subject and shared experiences.
"Everybody's my friend in school," he said of Ben Lomond. "Everyone I've met is pretty nice. Everyone is willing to help me."
But it's not that way back home, where Victor's parents pay for him to attend boarding school 11 months out of the year.
Victor said his high school is a place where senior students believe they have a right to pick on their junior classmen and generally get away with doing so.
But if school officials don't agree with what punishment a senior student wields, he or she can be severely beaten in public.
"I try not to talk to seniors and I try not to get in their way," Victor said of his behavior at his home school.
But Victor said he'll act differently now when he goes to school next year.
"I will treat them differently," he said of his younger classmen.
He said his changed attitude is exactly why he was sent to Ogden.
"The aim of the program is to bring peace between Christians and Muslims," he said about those who gave him a scholarship to attend school in Utah.
He was one of 20 in his country and seven from his state selected, based on essays and exams in English and mathematics.
"After the program, I will create a workshop and tell them about peace," Victor said. "I'm gonna teach them we have to live in peace. They need to respect other people's opinions and mind their own problems, not other people's problems."
He believes the workshops are needed in a country where people are afraid if they see an unattended package or bag sitting around for fear it might be a bomb.
And Victor said he was surprised to learn that journalists weren't afraid for their lives in Utah.
"If you get information about somebody, they shoot you or they kidnap you," he said.
He said he was surprised to see that people can buy guns in a store here. Only uniformed people are allowed guns in Nigeria, he said.
Victor said teachers also use corporal punishment to motivate students to learn in Nigeria.
"Teachers use a cane to teach," he said. "They will beat the hell out of you. ... We study for more knowledge. Sometimes we study not to get hit."
That's one reason he believes studying in Ogdenis much easier.
But he said Top of Utah schools have other advantages, too.
In his home school, there were only 20 computers and two science labs for the 200 students.
The resources he finds in Ogden seem limitless in comparison.
"I want to come back here for college," he said. "The school system has a lot of facilities."
Victor said he has enjoyed his time at Ben Lomond so far this year.
He's a member of the chamber choir and the mountain biking club.
He is also trying out for the basketball team and plans to try out for the soccer team in that season.
Victor said students are generally fascinated with his black skin and want to know all about where he comes from.
Some students have said they thought people didn't wear clothes in his country, and they were surprised to find out there was television there.
When he has worn a handmade shirt to school, students have asked him if he made it himself and if he would teach them to make similar clothing. But he tells them he bought his shirt in the market.
CIEE, a nonprofit, nongovernmental international exchange organization that sent Victor to Ogden, often is looking for host families to house students like Victor.
For information, call 801-200-8922 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.