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The Suburbanite
  • Exchange students complete year at Coventry

  • Coventry High School was home to four foreign exchange students this school year.

    “We have never had this many exchange students.


    To have four at one time at one time it is unusual,” said Principal Cindy McDonald. “It is nice. They have become friends with one another, they participate in sports and it has been a super experience for the entire student body,” she said.

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  • Coventry High School was home to four foreign exchange students this school year.
    “We have never had this many exchange students.
    To have four at one time at one time it is unusual,” said Principal Cindy McDonald. “It is nice. They have become friends with one another, they participate in sports and it has been a super experience for the entire student body,” she said.
    McDonald said the student body has welcomed the four students. “They are just a part of us. They work in the office and come to the events and activities. They blend in so well you sometimes forget they are foreign exchange students,” said McDonald.
    All though the four exchange students come from different countries, they all have one thing in common, they gained weight while living in the U.S.
    They agreed that they do not eat out at home. The students also agreed that the school work was easier here than in their countries.
     Sophomore Junhyeok Baek from South Korea said he was nervous when he first came to Coventry, but now he is comfortable.
    He likes it here and said the kids are much better in the U.S. and students that host his family is like his real family. Junhyeok participated in track and soccer, but had never played sports before. He liked studying math at Coventry.
    “It was a good experience and I have made friends that I will keep in touch with,” he said.
    While in the states he has been to New York City and went to a variety of sporting events, including a Cleveland Cavaliers and Disney World.
    He said in Korea they make all their own food and do not go out to eat like he has done here. Also, the students in Korea go to school 14 hours a day and do not change classes. 
    Junior Leticia Pereira from Brazil never thought she would be an exchange student, but last year her brother came to Coventry and she thought it was a nice experience so decided to do it herself.
    “I am staying with the same family that he (brother) was with last year and I am enjoying it,” she said.
    She helped with senior video efforts in filming the prom, sporting events and other activities.
    Being from Rio, there is no snow, and she was disappointed in the mild winter in Ohio. She did not get to make a snowman. She said living here she needs someone to take her everywhere she goes because they are not allowed to drive and there is not the public transportation like there is in the bigger city of Rio.
    Leticia said students do not change classes in Brazil. Instead  the teachers move, not the students.
    Page 2 of 3 - “I was close the beach there eat out as much as some Americans do. We walk a lot or bike places instead of taking the car. My family at home has a specific time table for the day. Here it is a little different, not so specific.”
    Leticia said she has gone ice skating and has been able to travel with her host family to Niagara Falls and California. While in California she was happy to see the ocean again.
    Junior Tiia Yla Perainen is from Finland and loved the school spirit of Coventry High School. “In my country school is just for school. We don't have school sports or anything. All we do is study. If we want to do sports it is outside of school.”
    She also said that she goes to school fewer hours in Finland. They schedule their own classes like college. “Here you get to see more people and talk to them.”
    Tiia was able to visit New York City while and said it felt like she was not in the same country because it was so different from Akron.
    She has gone to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ice skating in Akron, Cedar Point and has been to the malls. Tiia said she was able to go to Georgia and Tennessee with her host family.
    “I have never ridden any longer than three hours in a car before,” she said. She compared traveling to Georgia like going to other countries from Finland. “My grandmother lives in Germany, but we go by plane. It is like living in Ohio and visiting relatives in Florida, but it is different countries not states,” she said. She liked the longer car ride and said it was fun. 
    “I think this is a nice experience and it goes really fast.  You have to enjoy it. Just live it don't worry too much enjoy every moment. It opens your eyes. I have never appreciated Finland like I do now. I never appreciated the United States like I do now. I want to come back,” said Tiia.
    Senior David Barrio from Spain was gone at the time, but his host “brother” was available, sophomore Jimmy Holmgren.
    “Since David has been here he has put on weight,” said Jimmy. “We go out to eat a lot and David said they do not do that in Spain.”
    David got very involved he played rugby, basketball and soccer and lettered in all three sports. He could not believe the amount of fans that were at the games. He was shocked during his first basketball game that the students and parents filled the stands. He said in Spain only a few come to watch because sports are done outside of school.
    Page 3 of 3 - “He has met a lot of friends and spends a lot of time with them,” said Jimmy.
    David was surprised that Jimmy's parents had to drive him everywhere. In Spain they would walk. He also missed the ocean and surfing. Among things David went to Cedar Point and ice skating in downtown Akron, which he had not done before Jimmy said that having David here was like having an older brother and he shared his room with him.
    “I had to give up my bed and go to the top bunk,” he said. “David is 6 ft. 5 in. and huge so he needed the lower bed and there was a lot less food in the fridge,” he said laughingly. 
    David liked the area so much that he has gone home to Spain for a couple of months and then he will be back to study at Cleveland State University.
    Several other things all the students agreed upon were that it was easy to make friends at Coventry High School. They were asked a lot of questions about their countries, but the number one question was, “Do you have McDonald's in your country?” Most of the students said houses are about the same, but Junhyeok said he lives in an apartment building where there are many buildings like New York City.
    “It has been awesome and I am really going to miss them. They are great kids,” said McDonald. “I think a spinoff of this is Facebook. As much as it has negativity sometimes, the positive is they will all remain in touch with each other. So living in Spain, South Korea, Finland, and Brazil they will all stay in touch with their friends in Coventry.”
    Junhyeok Baek – 10th  Grader from South Korea
    Leticia Pereira – 11th Grader from Brazil
    Tiia Yla Perainen – 11th Grader from Finland
    David Barrio – 12th Grader from Spain