Imagine finding yourself in a world unlike anywhere you have ever known, where everyone spoke an unfamiliar language. Would you be up for the challenge? At the start of this school year, four foreign exchange students, all from Europe, came to Pelham to embark on this exciting opportunity.
Inspired by her mother, who grew up in America, Irene Sanchez, a junior from Valencia, Spain, has come to the United States for the school year. She is thrilled to start getting involved in school events like the olympics, especially after seeing the school come together during the pep rally and homecoming. Sanchez has even signed up for the field hockey team.
Sanchez said, “It has been really fun to see how everyone gets really excited as a team.”
One unexpected cultural difference is how lunch is usually the biggest meal of the day at home, and here the main focus is usually on dinner. Though she misses her family, Sanchez is eager to see as much as she can, and will even be traveling to the Cayman Islands with her host family.
Like Sanchez, junior Sina Reiner-Holm’s ambitions to come to Pelham were also sparked by an experience her mother had. Her mom did a similar program when she was her age, and for as long as she can remember, has always wanted to come to America from her home country of Norway to share in the adventure. Though it has been hard to adjust to the language, Reiner-Holm can’t wait to explore New York City and get involved through school events.
Junior Kimberly Barbian from Germany had previously experienced a month abroad in England, and because of how wonderful that trip was, she felt a strong urge to push herself further and come to America. Like the other exchange students, she has had a little bit of a hard time with the language change, but that has not hindered her ambition to do well in school. Barbian is thrilled to express team spirit, which is not a concept that is emphasized as much at home.
Barbian said, “I can’t wait to see how everyone gets involved as a school. We don’t do that at home in the way that everyone here does.”
Rosana Di Stasio is a senior from Puglia, Italy, and is here for only a month. Since her time here is brief, she is trying to learn as much English as she can. School has been very different for her here since at home she is in the same classroom for the whole school day. Di Stasio has already gotten the chance to explore New York City, and loved it so much that she hopes to return at least one more time before she leaves.
Each exchange student has been blown away by how welcoming everyone has been, from helping them in the halls and the unity that the school shows in their spirit. Although the language challenges are daunting, all of the girls have readily taken on the challenge and improved their English drastically. Remember to say hi to them in the halls!