Exchange students of OHS (Ibrahim Abdullahi)
Exchange students of OHS

Ibrahim Abdullahi

OHS welcomes foreign exchange students

October 18, 2016

Every year at OHS, if you pay close attention in the halls or in your classrooms, you might notice some new exchange students. These students not from the United States, they come from all around the globe through organizations such as the Rotary Exchange Club, the most popular club for exchange students. This year, OHS has had the opportunity to have three exchange students come here from three different countries. The three girls include junior Hannah Heftrich from Hamburg, Germany, senior Elizabeth Mukurazita from Zimbabwe and Sophomore Leticia Russo Mateus from Belo Horizonti, Brazil.

Hannah Heftrich

exchange student Hannah Heftrich from Germany
Ibrahim Abdullahi
exchange student Hannah Heftrich from Germany

Hannah Heftrich expressed her excitement to be here, “I have always wanted to come to the United States.” Regarding her thoughts on OHS, she said, “The people are nice and the school is very nice. It’s different than Germany, because back in Germany they choose your classes for you and you don’t have any other options.” Hannah’s favorite class is human relations, but she also likes math and English.

In Heftrich’s free time, she likes to meet new friends and participate in swimming. She said, “I like it because it’s nice but at the same time hard. I joined to try something new.”

After her one year at OHS, Heftrich plans to finish school back home and come back to the states for college, hopefully becoming a translator. Heftrich has not decided where to go for college yet, but knows that she wants to. One of her favorite things about being in Minnesota for the school year involve the community, “The people here are friendlier and interested in Germany. The also ask a lot of questions about Germany.” On the subject of Minnesota, Heftrich described it as, “very cold, but pretty.” She said, “Owatonna is a pretty town and the houses are really nice. I enjoyed the CultureFest and the homecoming game was a great experience. The homecoming dance was also a fun experience.” When asked if she is ready for the “Minnesota winter”, Heftrich replied, “I’m not prepared. I think it’s cold already.” As it is only fall, Heftrich is in for quite the surprise.

Leticia Russo Mateus

Exchange student Leticia Russo Mateus from Brazil
Ibrahim Abdullahi
Exchange student Leticia Russo Mateus
from Brazil

Leticia Russo Mateus, hails from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is 15 years old, making her the youngest of the three exchange students. Russo Mateus came here to learn English and the American culture. Russo Mateus said, “I came here a couple years ago and liked it so I came back again, this time for educational purposes.”

Regarding her thoughts on OHS, she said, “It’s different from Brazil, but I like it the classes and the teachers. They have great class organization, and although I’m only here for a semester, I’m liking it a lot.” Russo Mateus has a twin brother who is currently in Taiwan, and she likes music and playing the piano. She wants to be a lawyer, and takes defensive fighting classes back in Belo Horizonte. Russo Mateus not only has learned English, but also speaks Italian. After her one year here, she plans to go back to Brazil and finish school, then maybe come back here for college.

Russo Mateus had a positive outlook on the distinct changes in culture, “The weather here is very cold, but I’m excited about winter. The people here are friendly. The food is different, but a good kind of different, and I’m trying things I wouldn’t normally try. I love the football games here, because we don’t have American football back in Brazil.” Her favorite classes include math, history and philosophy. Russo Mateus noted that we don’t have philosophy as a class here at OHS. As for why she enjoys philosophy, Russo Mateus said, “You get to think about life and the subject brings up great questions, like why things are the way they are.” The Minnesota winter is proving to a source of anticipation for Russo Mateus,“I’m not ready for it. I’m kind of scared. I can’t imagine how it could get colder than this, but at the same time I’m excited for it.” Some of the cultural differences have proven to be a pleasant surprise for her, “I like the holidays. I’m curious about it and I like the way things work around here. We don’t have a Target or Starbucks in Brazil, but you guys have it here and I like that.”

Elizabeth Mukurazita

Exchange student Elizabeth Mukurazita from Zimbabwe
Ibrahim Abdullahi
Exchange student Elizabeth Mukurazita from Zimbabwe

The eldest exchange student, 17-year-old Elizabeth Mukurazita,she arrived last January was excited to live in the United States. Mukurazita said,  “It was one of my first options. I also was curious about  Americans and how they portray them on movies and TV shows, especially in American high schools.Before coming to OHS, Mukurazita went to Medford. It was small and unique to her, so Mukurazita could make friends more easily.

Back in Zimbabwe, Mukurazita has a twin sister who has already graduated. She is also involved in their national choir. During the past summer, Mukurazita went on an 18 day trip down the entire east coast. After her one year here, Mukurazita plans to come back for a college education and attend St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where she wants to major in marketing and minor in in music. One of the reasons she picked St. Joseph’s University is because her uncle lives there, which would make it easier for her, having a family member nearby.

Mukurazita expressed how much she is enjoying Minnesota, “I like the weather, the snow, the amount of shopping malls you guys gave, and I will always love the food. My favorite things are the food, MOA, shopping, visiting different towns, and meeting other exchange students.” Her favorite subject in school is human relations, because everything can be applied back to her life, and it also benefits her later on, giving her life skills that everyone needs. She also enjoys choir, because of her love for singing. As for the Minnesota winter, Mukurazita said, ”It will definitely be worse than last winter, maybe super cold.”

All three exchange students seem to being enjoying OHS. We now have the opportunity to get to know these girls and even befriend them. Be sure to make them feel welcome at OHS. Remember, don’t be scared to say “hi,” and offer a friendly greeting if you see one of the exchange students in the halls. Each have different personalities and their own unique ideas to offer OHS.

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