Each year Vernonia High School and the community host a group of Exchange Students from around the world; this year Vernonia has welcomed nineteen of these young people into our community. Over the last few months Vernonia’s Voice has met these students in small groups and introduced them to you. This is our final group of Exchange Students this year.
Ani Danielyan- Ani is a senior from Armenia who is living with the Hayes family. This is Ani’s first time ever traveling outside her home country. She says she wanted to become an Exchange Student to “discover a new world,” and to meet new people. She also says it was a great opportunity to improve her English. Ani says Vernonia is “…perfect for me. I love every single thing here.” Ani says the people here are very nice, friendly and caring and says she could live here, “…for a very long time.” Ani says after graduation she plans to enter university in Armenia and study to become a dentist.
Chi Ting Lee- “Jean” is from Taiwan and staying with the Nailon family this year. A junior, Jean ran cross country this fall and would like to play basketball in the winter. Jean says she hopes to learn more about other cultures during her year abroad and also hopes to improve her English. She says she has found the people of Vernonia to be very nice and polite and says she enjoys the clean, fresh air here. Jean says she has previously traveled to Japan and China and has visited the United States twice before, traveling to San Francisco and Los Angles. Jean says she intends to enter university after high school but is unsure what she would like to study.
Paul Lemaron- Paul is a junior who comes to Vernonia from Kenya. Paul lives with Cathy and Reggie Ward. Paul says he joined the Exchange Student program because he wanted to promote better understanding between people and cultures of the world. “My main goal is to help people learn more about my culture and help people appreciate each other, regardless of their background, their culture, or where they are from. I want to promote peace and make more friends.” Paul is the Vice President of the Junior Class at VHS. He was the leading runner on the boys cross country team this year and is very proud of the three medals he won. He was named Athlete of the Month at VHS for September. He says he would like to try wrestling and is eagerly awaiting the track season in the spring; he just barely missed qualifying for the state meet in cross country and can’t wait to run competitively again. Paul says he likes Vernonia (“It is a fantastic place for me to be!”) and he has enjoyed his experiences meeting people and doing things in a small town. He says the weather here is very different from his native Kenya, which is on the equator, and he has been especially surprised by the changes in the length of sunlight each day which they don’t experience in his home country. “We always have twelve hours of sunlight and twelve hours of darkness.” Paul says he has only traveled to Tanzania, which is one country bordering Kenya. Paul says his dream is to return to the United States to study medical engineering and become a neurosurgeon. He would also like to continue his running career.
Alejandro Rubiera-Alejandro comes from the north coast of Spain. A junior, he is living with Kathleen Jackson and Stan Zook. Alejandro says he became an Exchange Student because he wanted to learn about people from other countries; how they work and live. He also wanted to learn to speak a second language. Alejandro competed in cross country, but says it was mostly to get in shape for basketball season, which is his real love; he has traveled and competed on the national basketball team back in Spain. He says he likes small town Vernonia. “The first day I came to town, I thought, ‘Wow, it is just like in the movies.’ I think it is the perfect town to represent Oregon and the United States. It was just what I was looking for.” Alejandro says he loves traveling and says he has visited Washington, D.C., New York, Miami and Orlando during two previous trips to the U.S. as well as Slovenia, France, Italy, England. Alejandro says he would like to return to Vernonia for his senior year of high school and hopefully earn a scholarship for basketball and attend college in the U.S. He says he would like to study medicine.