RUMFORD — Daniela Avila Riveros had visited various places in the United States from her native Vera Cruz, Mexico, several times before she became an exchange student this fall at Mountain Valley High School.

But living in Mexico, Maine, seems a little strange, she said Wednesday afternoon when she, other foreign exchange students, and members of the high school’s International Club met for lunch and conversation.

“It’s very cold here. But I’m looking forward to winter because it’s so hot at home,” the 16-year-old said.

Also spending the year at MVHS are Kalim Chhoun, 17, of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Janik Horfeld, 16, of Salzhausen, Germany, and Nicklas Dupont, 16, of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Armin Berger, 15, of Ratinger, Germany, will be at the Rumford school until January.

Most said they wanted to come to an American school so they can become more proficient in English because, Horfeld said, English is the language of the world.

Chhoun said he was here for an adventure.

And so far, it has been.

At home, Chhoun said he has rice with every meal, but here, there’s much more fast food.

“We would never have pizza at school,” said Horfeld as the young people munched on pepperoni pizza.

The students are learning that their school days back home are more difficult and longer than here. There’s less discipline here, they said. Back home, students must also bring their own lunches.

The students said they find people are friendly and accepting.

“They are open minded and don’t judge,” Riveros said.

Riveros hopes to go to college to study international relations. Horfeld wants to go into information technology, Dupont will study engineering, Berger is thinking of business management, and Chhoun wants to study either economics or game design.

All are taking part in various sports either on a school team or individually.

International Club members Brittany Wakefield and Morgan Gordon have helped guide the exchange students in the school’s culture, classes and other events.

On Nov. 9, the five students will make presentations at a schoolwide assembly about their respective countries, including products made in each of them. And on Nov. 19, the students will likely take part in the school’s Diversity Day where MVHS students will not only learn about the countries that are represented by this year’s foreign exchange students, but also they will learn of various cultures, religions and lifestyles.


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