RUMFORD — Four young men from four European countries are this year’s foreign exchange students at Mountain Valley High School.

All want to learn more about American culture as well as improve their already very good English.

Eduardo Esteban is a junior from Spain; Gustav Gavenas is a senior from Sweden; Felix Proerm is a senior from Germany; and Rasmus Soeegaard is a senior from Denmark.

Proerm said he has known several people who have spent a year in the United States, and he wanted the same experience. This is his first trip to the U.S.

“I want to learn the American way of life,” he said.

Gavenas wanted to get away from Sweden for a while. His dad is American, and his mom is Swedish. He, too, wants to become better educated in American culture.

Esteban’s brother is in California. Soeegaard’s sister attended school in Oklahoma for a year under a foreign exchange program.

Proerm was particularly impressed that most of the MVHS students wanted to be friends of the four students.

“After a week, some were best friends,” he said.

Gavenas, who has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Sweden, believes Americans are more open-minded than many other nationalities.

Soeegaard pointed out that Danes are the happiest people in the world, perhaps because taxes pay for education and health care.

“Everyone supports everyone,” he said.

He said Maine is similar to Denmark, although his country has no mountains.

“But we have forests and the weather is the same,” he said.

Esteban is the only one of the four who will be dealing with cold weather for the first time. In Spain, the temperature stays somewhat warm in the winter.

Classes at MVHS are a bit easier than those at home, and students don’t have to take as many classes each semester.

In Germany, Proerm said, students take 14 or 15 classes each year.

The way sports are offered is very different, too. In the students’ four home countries, sports are not part of school. Instead, they are offered by the towns or cities and take place on the weekends.

All four students are pleased with their host families and the welcome they have received from MVHS students.

At least several foreign students attend MVHS each year. Principal Matt Gilbert believes such experiences expand his students’ knowledge.

“They understand what’s important in other parts of the world,” he said.

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