Exchange students enjoy their time in U.S.

Americans learned more about Saudi Arabia, Moldova and Lebanon through presentations last week
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Cedar Grove-Belgium High School’s three foreign exchange students this year all cite sports as one of the big differences or draws compared to their home countries.

Alexandra Bernaz from the eastern European country of Moldova, Charbel Salameh from Lebanon and Seba Al Tawfiq from Saudi Arabia gave public presentations on their countries last week.

Via email, the trio answered questions about their homelands and shared their impressions of America.

Bernaz said she was thrilled to expand her athletic horizons across the Atlantic Ocean.

“School is a huge sociable circle in my experience here. I tried new activities I’ve never done before like basketball or volleyball. Everything is so new for me and so interesting to explore. Hockey games are one of my favorites because my host-brother plays and I love cheering for them,” she said.

Salameh has a similar approach to athletics.

“One of my goals before coming here was trying new sports that are not as common or available back in my country, so for that reason, I joined football in the fall and I am currently wrestling,” he said. “I have really enjoyed bonding with my teammates and coaches who supported me and helped me get better at playing these sports.”

Al Tawfiq said she is “surprised at how everyone loves sports so much.”

All three shared a few things about they would like Americans to understand about their own countries.

Salameh and Al Tawfiq said their homes are different than how they are often portrayed.

“I would like the Americans to look at my country and discover its wonderful nature, food, and culture. Most Americans have heard of my country from the news and the media, which doesn’t always talk about it in a good light,” Salameh said.

“Saudi Arabia is a very advanced country. Unlike what others may think, and even though 90% of it is desert, most people live in cities.,” Al Tawfiq said.

Bernaz said Moldova is “full of hospitable, hardworking and ambitious people that are always looking for improvement.

“Our culture, dances, poetry and songs represent our deepest concerns, highest enjoyment and our soul’s uniqueness. Monasteries and fortresses built by our oldest ancestors historically enrich our gains and losses in battles; however, it retains the charming and delightful nature we protected with blood on our hands.”

All three are enjoying their time making new friends thousands of miles away from their old ones.

“I was amazed by their hospitality and their openness and curiosity towards strangers to their school and community,” Salameh said.

Al Tawfiq said, “I enjoy hanging out with the friends I made here. I also have enjoyed school and my teachers at Cedar Grove-Belgium.”

She is also surprised by how much sugar is in the food and how sweet it tastes.

Bernaz is intrigued by American culture.

“The United States attracted me by its spontaneous and at the same time organized view on everyday life. You never know what could happen tomorrow: maybe a trip, a new activity in school, a new friend or a new vision for the future,” she said.

“Personally, my thoughts on the topic of the future changed several times due to diverse opportunities I tried and new skills I gained. And of course it can not be good or bad, it is just different.”

 

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