The Charlotte Observer
A new school year brings new opportunities.
Giorgio Chessa, a 16-year-old senior attending Statesville High School said, “It’s all about being open to experiencing life as its happening.”
Chessa is a foreign exchange student from Italy who is residing with Mr. and Mrs. Mills and their four children in Statesville, NC. He has been playing soccer professionally since he was 14 years old and will play for the Statesville Greyhounds this year. This is his first time in the U.S. and he said that it has been the best experience of his life so far.
Chessa is a part of the EF Foundation for Foreign Study, which is a non-profit organization that places approximately 3,000 international students per year in U.S. homes and schools.
Teri Kirkpatrick, whom is the local EF Foundation coordinator for the Charlotte area, said that 24 international students are attending local schools this year.
The students arrived in the Charlotte area at the beginning of August, so they could settle in with their host families before the school year began. On Saturday, September 8, 2012, the EF Foundation hosted a welcome party for all international high school students in the area at Aw Shucks Farm in Monroe, NC.
Samuel Perelzweig, a 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Germany who attended the welcome event said that this was his third year of studying abroad, having studied previously in China and France. Perelzweig is living with Brian and Christina Westveer and their 16-year-old son, Justin Westveer and attending Cox Mill High School in Concord, NC.
Perelzweig is also professional golfer. He won the Russian Open in 2010. He said that he has been playing for the Russian national team for four years and will play for Cox Mill High School this year.
Perelzweig said that he looks forward to learning more about American History and wants to research potential U.S. colleges. He wants to study sports medicine.
Emil Houlind, a 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Denmark said, “I came to the U.S. to experience the life of an everyday American.” He also said that he wanted to see if American high school was the same as it is dramatized in many U.S. movies.
Houlind is staying with Suzanne and Mike Harrington and their three children while attending Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, NC.
He is interested in becoming an actor and is taking theater courses at Marvin Ridge High School. He looks forward to volunteering as a production assistant at Theatre Charlotte on September 12- 13, 2012 for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
Back home, Houlind is known for his award-winning professional snowboarding career. He has been snowboarding since he was 5 years old, professionally since 2009. In 2012, Houlind won the gold medal for Boardercross and the bronze for Big Air in the Danish Nationals Championships held in Norway.
These foreign exchange students, as well as others representing the EF Foundation in the Charlotte area will be volunteering at the International Festival at UNC-Charlotte on Saturday, September 29, 2012. The international festival will be held on campus at UNC-Charlotte from 10am- 6pm inside and outside of the James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center. The festival represents the cultures of 50 nations, where international students and community members come together to present their countries lifestyle through arts, crafts, costumes, dance and food. This is a free family-friendly event that is open to public and boasts previous crowds of 10,000 in attendance.
Mari Mezquita, a 17-year-old foreign exchange student from Spain said, “I love to move around, experience other cultures and be exposed to different parts of the world.” Mezquita, who is living with Dan and Michelle Bechler and attending Providence High School in South Charlotte, also said that she hopes to make the U.S. her home. She has already applied to MIT and plans to study biochemistry.
For more information on the International Festival at UNC-Charlotte, please call (704) 687-7781. Or for more information about hosting a foreign exchange student, email Teri Kirkpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.