Ana, from Spain, is 15 years old and attends high school in Scottsdale, AZ. She shares that one of the main reasons for embarking on PSE’s exchange program was to experience the educational system in America. In Spain, her teachers knew Ana as a great student due to her high grades, excellent attitude, and discipline in the classroom.
Ana’s host mother, Deanne, describes her as dedicated to her studies and hard-working. Ana’s hardworking and attentive nature effortlessly transferred to her American classroom where she is highly recognized by her teachers and peers. She has made a tremendous difference in her Spanish class in particular. In fact, the teacher and students view Ana as an integral part of their classroom learning experience.
Ana shares, “The students are very interested in learning about the Spanish culture and language. I help them with Spanish words and pronunciation. When my class members see me in the hallways, they speak Spanish with me. They text me in Spanish too! They are so eager to learn and improve!” She reports that as she has helped them with their Spanish accents, she has noticed much improvement.
Ana is equally as eager to help them as she loves sharing her Spanish culture with others. Her teacher asks her to present a topic every Friday that correlates with their curriculum. Whether it is presenting about current fashion trends or describing popular food items in Spain, Ana and her classmates look forward to her presentations.
She says that the students have many questions to ask, so it normally takes the entire class time to present the information and answer questions. Ana admits that some of the questions are difficult to answer, so she really has to think about how to respond. “The students in class initially thought Spain was very different based on their information about it. I have been able to dispel rumors and clarify and describe how it actually is. They get the real story, and they love it!” she exclaims. Ana enjoys it too because as the students share the cultural differences between the countries, she is learning about American culture.
Erika, Ana’s Local Coordinator shares, “I only wish I was taking the Spanish class with her! The real-life, relatable experience that class is receiving is immeasurable.” She is grateful for Ana and the impact she is making in school. “Thank you, Ana, for sharing the REAL Spain. You are making it possible for American students to truly experience another culture!”
Outside of school, Ana has made great memories with her host family. She has grown very close to her host brother, William, and host sister, Reese. Her favorite American food is mac ‘n cheese.
“My host sister made it as a side dish for Thanksgiving, and it is my favorite now.” she laughs.
The family has enjoyed many experiences together including watching a college football game in Tucson, taking in the sights in Las Vegas, and kayaking at Emerald Cove. Ana’s German friend, Franzi, has joined them on several excursions as well.
Ana shares, “One of my favorite memories is the football game because it was so fun! It was such a great day because the energy was so high, and the crowd was cheering so loud. I enjoyed it too because Franzi came with us. We laughed so hard and had a lot of fun! We also walked around the campus. It is so big, it’s as big as my city.”
Ana reports that these special trips have brought her closer to her host family and strengthened their relationship. She also discloses that her overall exchange experience has made her more independent and sociable. “I’ve met so many people in school and they are super nice. My English has improved a lot too!”
As far as the future, Ana dreams of becoming a doctor someday, specifically a Cardiologist. “I want to study medicine in the United States. I would like to get a scholarship to go to college. Maybe University of Arizona because they have a great medical school.”
Deanne says, “Ana has shared her culture with us while embracing new experiences in the United States. We have loved learning about Spain and have enjoyed hosting her very much. We definitely want to visit her hometown someday.”
Deanne closes with this message to Ana: “We know you have a big, bright future ahead, and we are proud of all your hard work and accomplishments, Ana!”
Written by Flo Webb; Edited by Lauren Lunt