Vashon welcomes students from abroad
By Eliza Pinckney, Reporter
VHS has a long history of exchange students traveling to Vashon from all over the world. This year is no exception as Sonsoles De Lacy Orellana and Nora Brockmann temporarily join the Class of 2021.
16-year-old De Lacy Orellana comes from the sunny city of Alicante, Spain. She will be staying with the Tracy family for her junior year. Alicante and America are over 5,000 miles apart, which is a significant move for a student to make.
“[The transition] is not hard, because people here are really nice. They include the exchange students,” De Lacy Orellana said. “But sometimes we’re in a group and I can’t follow the conversation, and that’s hard. And maybe I can’t explain myself really well, and that’s hard, but I can live with it.”
One constant in De Lacy Orellana’s journey is volleyball. She has been playing volleyball for eight years, and is currently on the high school team. De Lacy Orellana’s school in Alicante also has a volleyball team, but the similarities between the two schools stop there.
“My school was really strict,” De Lacy Orellana said. “I think that here is better. The lessons are more dynamic, and in Spain, it’s mostly memorization.”
The curriculum isn’t the only thing De Lacy Orellana thinks is a benefit of being an exchange student.
“I think there are more advantages than disadvantages [to being an exchange student] because you are going to learn a new culture and have different friends and you are going to learn English,” De Lacy Orellana said.
Although she is excited about experiencing a new culture, she expects to miss some things from Spain.
“Right now, I don’t miss anything. But I think that I will miss my family and friends a lot, and also the food. I’m going to miss the food,” De Lacy Orellana said.
Junior Nora Brockmann comes from Soltau, Germany. She is staying with the Heimbeck family for her year as a VHS student. Coming to Vashon as an exchange student is her first experience in the US.
“I was always thinking about [becoming an exchange student] because some friends and family did it,” Brockmann said. “I was always like ‘No, I don’t want to do it, because it’s too long of a time and I think I can’t do it.’ Then, two years ago, I traveled a lot for school to Paris and Berlin and everywhere and I was like ‘I want to see more.’”
For Brockmann, being an exchange student is a big transition, and she has experienced many ups and downs.
“You’re on your own and you have to go to other people and talk to them and find and meet new people and friends, so it’s crazy,” she said. “You have to figure out everything new. But it’s cool because all of the people talking to you and asking questions and they are interested.”
One way Brockmann has been meeting new people is through sports. She is on the volleyball team at VHS, along with De Lacy Orellana. Back home, Brockmann also enjoys horseback riding and going on runs with her dog.
“My host family has horses but I don’t really ride because I don’t really have time after school…” Brockmann said. “But I miss my horse and dog and family, too.”
Despite Brockmann’s homesickness, she is happy to be an exchange student at VHS this year. De Lacy Orellana and Brockmann are both looking forward to a good year and getting to know more students.
“I’m very excited to be here, and very excited for everything new,” De Lacy Orellana said.