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Paula Martinez Gomez, left, of Spain has become friends with other exchange students living in Belton this year, including Joyner Chen of China.

when they noticed their neighbor throwing a party. It was an international celebration welcoming their foreign exchange student. This gave Rachelle an idea. Her daughter Kadi was about to begin her freshman year at Belton High School when Rachelle thought it would be a “nice to bring in a student.” She worked with Yvette Shackelford, area representative the ASSE International Exchange Student Program. “They send you a list of all the students and then you can read a letter



they write,” Rachelle said. “It gives you their interests and likes. We knew we wanted someone from Europe and narrowed down our search. We read their letters and found Paula very personable.” The Byroads were interested in the European lifestyle and learning the differences between Europe and the United States. “They speak a lot of English in Spain and their school is a lot harder. Children start learning English as a second language starting in their equivalency of our kindergarten,” Rachelle said.

This is Paula’s first time in the United States and she is hoping to improve her English skills by immersing herself into the American culture. But the cultural gap is almost as big as Texas itself. “Mostly, life here is so different from what I am used to,” she said. “In Spain, we walk a lot. Here you have to drive everywhere.” Another difference is the social life of teenagers. She said it isn’t unusual for her to venture out on her own in her hometown, and when she calls a friend, they walk to the closest café to hang out. Continued

Tex Appeal Magazine | December 2017  
Tex Appeal Magazine | December 2017