The Little Hawk Feature Magazine September 21, 2012
see pages 11-13
The Little Hawk Feature Magazine
September 21, 2012
THEY CALL THEMSELVES BEST BUDDIES
THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
ON THE COVER: BABY BOOM (PART 2)
By Alex Perez
By Will Lubraoff
By Emma Baxter
This Year, City High’s Best Buddies chapter has more members than ever. With 22 buddy matches and monthly events, Best Buddies is making it’s mark this school year.
The upcoming presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is a heated debate. Students are turning to social media to express their opinions.
In the past year, seniors, Hong Nguyen and Hailey Bryan have had their lives turned upside down with the arrival of their babies, Carter Jackson and Kya Marie.
A day at Friendly Farm with City High’s Interact club.
A LETTER FROM THE FEATURE EDITORS
Dear Readers, Welcome to The LH Feature Magazine, the newest edition to The Little Hawk Newspaper! As your editors we hope this transition is as exciting to you as it is to us. The Feature section holds a special place in our hearts. Sophomore year, we joined newspaper together and got our start at feature writing when we were assigned to work together on the same story (which was terrific, by the way). Throughout the last three years we’ve found our niche in feature writing and have developed a love
PHOTO STORY: TOMATOES & INTERACT
for sharing peoples stories and experiences. Being able to make connections with people you never would have communicated with before, is extremely gratifying. Writing features is a tricky business, there’s a precise formula and a delicate balance that goes into a feature story. We give props to anyone who’s ever endured our incredibly high standards and overbearing critiques. (We promise, we’re nice in real life.) The transition from just plain ol’ section B to a full on magazine has given us the opportunity to work with our staffers and designers more closely. We can’t wait to hear what you think! Let us know if you ever have story ideas, we’re open to suggestions! Love, your editors, Alex and Emma
A Teacher Profile:
I’m not just sitting on my academic laurels, I have actually been involved in the film and television industry. I’m not just pulling stuff out a textbook.
photo by Eli Shepherd
By Renata Stewart Teaching from a secluded classroom in City High’s “dungeon”, English teacher Troy Peters has a wealth of real world experience in the television and film business to share with his students. Posters of famous movies hang all along the walls of his room, offering a glimpse into Peter’s life before coming to City High. His story starts out, however, like that of any small town Iowa boy. “I grew up in Belmond, Iowa,” he said. “It’s a small town up in North Central Iowa. I left there when I graduated high school and came to Iowa City for college.” He majored in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. A few years later, he took a leap and moved out to Hollywood with three friends. “At the time, I was just three hours short of graduating college. My mom wasn’t really happy about that,” he joked. “I was looking to get into the film business. At the time, I wanted to write and direct movies,” Peters explained. He never made it into that niche specifically, but was successful nonetheless. During the 15 years that he worked in the industry, Peters worked on set decoration for about 25-30 TV shows and films. Peters’ involvement in these films demonstrated his firm dedication, as starting out in the film business in Los Angeles was by no means an easy task. “I moved out to Hollywood in the middle of a writers’ strike, so very little was going on. I
had to work on some really, really low-budget films,” he said. From there, it was all about the connections he had made during his time on the West Coast. “In the 15 years I was in the film business, I never once got asked for my GPA or what classes I had taken,” Peters said. “They would just ask, ‘who do you know that I know?’ and, ‘what have you worked on in the past?’” Through various jobs, Peters formed good contacts, and eventually got in a union, which meant that he could work with any of the major studios. And “it took off from there.” “I was what they call an on-set dresser,” he explained. “I was there as a representative for the production and design group to make sure that the movie is being shot the way it should be.” While he loved working in Hollywood, Peters eventually decided it was time to take a new direction in life. “I got tired of living on the road,” he explained. “The union was based in Los Angeles, but we would be gone for 3-4 months at a time. I was done living out of my suitcases. So, I decided to get a real job, something stable, so I went into teaching.” Peters came back to the University of Iowa to get his teaching degree. It took him a few years and multiple English classes in order to get certified as an English teacher. Contrary to his expectations, the switch from Hollywood set-designer to English teacher was not a simple one. “I thought, “Hey, I’m cool! I’ve been to
Hollywood, I can get a job in Iowa City!” But that didn’t really translate into an English teaching degree,” he joked. After earning his degree, he got a job teaching in the Louisa-Muscatine school district. He described the high school as the center of a bunch of outlying rural communities. After one semester, he knew it wasn’t the place for him. “A position opened up for the second semester at City High, and I jumped on the opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been here for five years, and I’m extremely happy.” Along with teaching in the English department, Peters directs City High’s theater productions and coaches the school’s Large Group Speech team. His experience in the world of acting and film has provided him with valuable experience he can share with his students. “I’ve been around a lot of great actors and directors, from the likes of Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, and Steven Spielberg,” he said. “A lot of the time, I got to sit back and watch them. I would try and gain as much knowledge as possible. I try to bring a little bit of that experience to directing here in high school.” Peters has taken the experiences gained from his Hollywood career and incorporated them into his classroom, creating a teaching style unique to the extraordinary events of his own life. “I’m not just sitting on my academic laurels; I have actually been involved in the film and television industry,” he said. “I know exactly how they are made, so I’m not just pulling stuff out of a textbook.” September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
photos by Eli Shepherd
By Alex Perez Best Buddies is an international non-profit organization that fosters friendships between students and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the past, City High’s chapter has been honored as the “Most Outstanding Chapter” in the nation. 4 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
September 21, 2012
eated on matching red chairs, two boys, both in glasses, both seniors, both with smiles plastered across their faces, are both members of Best Buddies. One with intellectual disabilities, one without. James Willging and Abdenour ‘‘Wawe’’ Rouabhi are best friends. Best Buddies is a non-profit organization that focuses on developing one-on-one friendships between people with intellectual disabilities and people without disabilities, and is one of the largest clubs at City High. 'This year should be really exciting,” James Willging ‘13 said. “We have 22 buddy matches this year, which is an exceptional number. Most chapters would never even dream of having that amount of participation. It shows how good our school is on focusing on the inclusion of everybody.” Willging first became interested in Best Buddies when he started volunteering in the special education classes at South East Junior High. “I worked with Mrs. Dvorsky in 8th grade and she would tell me all about Best Buddies and it sounded really interesting,” Willging said. “Since I already volunteered in the special education classrooms, I thought joining Best Buddies would be fun. Also, that’s where I first met Wawe.” Freshman year, James and Wawe both joined City High’s chapter of Best Buddies. They were paired up and have been inseparable ever since. “Everyone who wants to be a peer buddy fills out an evaluation form and a survey,” Willing said. “Just to see who would be the best match. I talked to Mr. Braverman and told him how Wawe and I had met in 8th grade. He thought we would be a good match, and we’ve been buddies ever since.” Each month, Best Buddies holds different events so all the buddies can spend time together. “The homecoming dance is my favorite,” Wawe Rouabhi ‘13 said.
Best Buddies events vary from dances to potlucks, field trips to parties. “We each get matched up and just hang out with each other,” Willing said. “It’s pretty simple. I like the ropes course the best. We do it every year, at the end of the year. It was sweet watching Wawe do the zip line.” Besides planned events, each set of buddies also spends time together outside of school. “We just do normal things teenagers do,” Willging said. “We love to go to the home football games together, we go to the movies and go to the mall. We go out to eat a lot. Pizza is our favorite.” Recently, Willging and Rouabhi got their senior pictures taken together at Studio U Photography. “A lot of people have something important to them in their pictures,” Willging said. “And I couldn’t think of anyone who was more important to me than Wawe. So instead of just wearing a Best Buddies T-shirt, I brought my best buddy with me.” Willing and Rouabhi plan to make their last year together the best one yet. Willging plans to go to college next year and Rouabhi will be attending Transitions. “Transitions is essentially a continuation of what they work on in the special ed department here at City,” Willging said. “With the program Wawe will continue going out into public, adapting to different work situations and getting more work experience.” Although Willging and Rouabhi will be leaving each other, they still plan to stay in contact. “I’m going to try to hang out with Wawe as much as possible when I’m back in town,” Willging said. Best Buddies chapters are becoming more and more popular but they’re not offered in all high schools and colleges. “It really depends on where I go to school,” Willging said. “I would love to stay involved, but it would be hard to have any other buddy than Wawe, I love that kid.”
September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
illustration by Kara Hartley & Nora Holman
2012 : YEAR OF THE eLECTION By Will Lubaroff
With the upcoming presidential election just a few months away, CHS students turn to social media to voice their opinions and support their candidates.
ith the Presidential Election coming up in only a few months, it’s hard to find somewhere to escape the political buzz. Facebook, Twitter, and even City High are full of conversations, arguments, and even full on debates over political ideology. “I won’t be able to vote in the next election, but if I could, I’d vote for Barack Obama,” says Sam Rahn ‘14. While Rahn considers himself quite liberal, he is not alone in his opinions. As High School students becoming young adults, studies show that CHS students are in the age group most likely to be liberal. The Pew 6 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
September 21, 2012
Research Center found that 29% percent of those aged 18-29 consider themselves to be liberal, while any other age group is less than 20% liberal. “I hold a lot of progressive ideals, I believe we need to move forward as a nation.” Rahn said. “Look at the conservative agenda throughout history. Anti women’s suffrage, pro slavery, pro segregation. Now look at the issues today. Gay marriage, female choices about their bodies. Do you really want to be the person holding us back?” With so many different controversial issues dividing our country, it’s hard for many to pick the “most important” issue.
“The biggest issue?” Rahn said. “The unemployment rate is huge, as is the national debt.” But there are two sides to every story. Andrew Brown ‘13 considers himself an economic conservative. “If I could vote, I’d probably go for Romney.” Brown said. “The economy is important, and nothing else at this point.” When asked the most important issue is, Brown’s response was shockingly similar to Rahn’s. “The national debt is still rising. $16 trillion deficit, YOLO! On top of that, the unemployment rate is too damn high.” If democrats and republicans can agree
on the main issues in the country, then why is there so much fighting between parties? With City High students, at the very least, the answer lies in the solution. “The proper solution?” Rahn said . “Stop increasing military spending, stop cutting funding for social programs, and tax the wealthy.” Brown offered a different solution. “Bring jobs back into the country, meaning not hiring those who are here illegally, not outsourcing jobs to other countries, and fewer or no unemployment benefits, especially if the unemployed person is not actively seeking a job.” In the 2008 election, Obama had a 34 point advantage over McCain among voters younger than 30. What is it that draws young voters to Obama? Some may say, the internet. As anyone that follows Barack Obama on Twitter can tell you, he tweets multiple times a day, while also posting several times on Facebook. Could Obama’s use of social media affect his public opinion so much? Studies show that 86% of those aged 18-29 use social networking sites, as compared to 72% of those aged 30-49, 50% of those aged 50-64, and 34% of those 65 and older. It’s not hard to see why Obama would reach out to the younger generation through social media. The crowd at the recent Obama rally in Iowa City tells the same story, it was largely made up of High School and College students. Among them was Henry Wright ‘14. “Any way a candidate can get themselves out there is good,” said Wright. “It’s a good way to gather his base and rally support, it’s the way of the future.”
# POLITICS ON TWITTER
photos by Ellen Carman September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
INTERACT VISITS FRIENDLY FARM Photographs By Eli Shepherd
Interact members scan the vines, searching for ripe tomatoes. By the end of the day, students had collected seven full boxes worth.
The tomatoes picked had a deep orange or red hue. Here, Ellis Watson â€˜16 double checks a row for ripe stragglers. 8 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
Watson takes a break from picking tomatoes, resting atop a green pumpkin on the outskirts of the patch. September 21, 2012
Autumn approaching, the pumpkin patch at Friendly Farm was a sea of green but ripening pumpkins.
Smiles were plentiful within the group and Ella Osteguaard â€˜16 proved no exception.
Interact adviser Carrie Watson talked with students while volunteering at Friendly Farm. September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
photos by Renata Stewart
LH FEATURE MAGAZINE September 21, 2012
6 months later...
Balancing school, work, friends, and college applications is a load most 17-year olds are accustomed to. But being a mom is not. For Hailey Bryan and Hong Nguyen, their babies, Kya and Carter, are the newest additions to their already chaotic lives. These two students have embarked down the challenging path of parenthood. By Emma Baxter
Hong’s Story Hong Nguyen’s idea of giving birth mainly involved a long period of pain, so the thought of delivery weighed heavily on her mind. But Carter’s birth wasn’t nearly as bad as she was expecting; she was only in labor for three hours. Six months later, and Hong still recalls the first moment she held her son. “When I saw Carter I didn’t know how to react,” Hong said. “At first I was like ‘oh my god, this is my baby, he’s actually here, I just gave birth to him.’ I was so tired it was hard to comprehend.” Carter’s arrival has ushered in many changes for Hong’s life in the past several months. Sleep is just one thing Hong is deprived of. The first few weeks were boring for Hong, who just watched her baby sleep. Now that he is six months old, his needs and personality have grown. “He sleeps through most of the night, but at two in the morning when he wakes up and is hungry, I have to get up,” Hong said. “Sleep is definitely the hardest part; I feel like I’m running on empty.” Adjusting to the loss of sleep and to the reality of someone else in her life was also challenging. “I was so used to it just being me,” Hong said. “Now everything revolves around his schedule. When he wants to sleep I get to sleep, but when he is up, it’s all about him. I have learned to set things aside that I need to do in order to take care of him.” Hong had planned to take only five weeks
Kya, 7 months
Carter, 6 months off from school. But she had trouble with paperwork between Carter’s day-care and Iowa’s Department of Human Services. So her time off from school ended up being two months. “I thought it would put me behind,” Hong said. “But I had made up work before he was born, so catching up three more weeks wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be.” Summer was a time of growth for both of them. Hong was learning to get used to Carter’s transforming behavior as he got older. His cries
are now distinguishable to her ears; she knows that a certain cry means he’s hungry, or wants to be held. “I have to keep getting used to him at different ages. It makes me change the way I take care of him,” Hong said. “He can hold himself up now, so that makes me worried about him getting up and falling, for instance.” When summer ended and Hong’s senior year started, it was “overwhelming.” Adding school and homework to her already crowded lifestyle of work and taking care of Carter was stressful. “Most of my time is devoted to him. That’s what’s hard most of the time,” Hong said. “I take care of him more than I take care of myself. I try to set a time for homework, but that doesn’t always work because Carter needs to be taken care of.” School is also the place where Hong gets time to herself to feel like an average teenager. “I feel bad for leaving Carter, I miss him a lot when I’m at school,” Hong said. “But it’s also a place where I feel like a normal kid. At home I switch into ‘mom mode’ and feel like mother, not a teenager.” Now that Hong doesn’t have a protruding belly, people don’t give her the “stare”. But she is aware of the fact that people still judge her when she goes out with Carter. “If I have to bring him to school because I missed an assignment, so many people look at me and say ‘OMG, she has a baby!’” Hong said. “And if I’m at the store, people probably think I’m a 12 year old with a kid, because I look young.” *continued on next page
September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
Hong has assistance from her mom and brother, Sonny Nguyen ‘14, who watches Carter when she goes to work. Hong works 13 hours on the weekend, so having them help with Carter is great. Hong doesn’t feel like age makes much of a difference when it comes to being a good parent. “I don’t think anyone is fully prepared to have a baby,” she said. “Yes, being older makes you more financially stable and you might have a better home, but I have a job and we’re doing perfectly fine.” Hong’s future plans are to graduate from City High and take classes at Kirkwood Community College. When Carter is able to make his own decisions on activities like sports and musical instruments, Hong wants him to have the freedom to do whatever he desires. “I just want him to be happy,” Hong said. “That’s my goal. I’ve given up so much to make sure he’s taken care of, but waking up to his bright smile everyday always makes everything worth it.”
Hailey’s Story The anticipation Hailey Bryan ‘13 was feeling before she held her baby girl, Kya Marie Adamson, was making her anxious. But every emotion her body felt before Kya was born was nothing compared to the sensation of seeing her for the first time. “It was overwhelming seeing Kya for the first time,” Hailey said. “I loved her so much already, but once I could see and hold her in person it was unreal.” The week after Kya was born was a lonely time for Hailey. Her mom went back to work
and the baby’s father, Angus Adamson ‘14, went back to school. Having only Facebook and a few text messages to keep her connected to the outside world, Hailey searched for anything that would show her that “humans were alive.” “I felt so isolated, and I cried a lot,” Hailey said. “People think that it would be cool to get a month off from school, but all I wanted was to go back. There was no one to talk to, and Kya slept most of the time.” Hailey’s maternal instinct came easily, partly because she had experience with little kids. She helped take care of her younger sister, and she helped at her after-school program. At first, Hailey was very protective of Kya, even with Angus, who tried to help but was initially shot down. “When I first saw Kya I thought I would be scared, but instead I was just happy,” Angus said. “I understood that Hailey was worried and protective of her, but I also knew that everything was going to be okay.” Both parents feel that they are a family. Instead of “playing video games all day,” Angus now has something important to do. Though they don’t live under the same roof, they have grown to appreciate their relationship as a family more. “I feel most like a family when all three of us are alone. But we still live at separate homes, so it makes building a family harder,” Hailey said. “Angus and I struggle to find time to spend together, but our relationship comes second to Kya.” Over the summer Hailey never felt like
Angus Adamson ‘14 and Hailey Bryan ‘13 embrace their baby girl, Kya Marie Adamson as she smiles for her grandfather’s camera. photo by Adamson Photography 12
LH FEATURE MAGAZINE September 21, 2012
going back to school. During the break, she immersed herself into the rhythm of being a mother. She was working and taking care of her baby, not thinking about what first-dayof-school outfit she was going to wear. “I’m excited to graduate and do senior type things, but right now I just see school as something I want to get over with,” Hailey said. “I don’t feel like a normal teenager anymore. Walking through the halls, I feel so much older compared to everyone else.” Hailey’s biggest fear before Kya was born was that she wouldn’t be able to handle school, work, and taking care of her daughter all at the same time. But she’s learned how to balance everything. “I have first and seventh period open,” Hailey said. “This allows me to get us both ready and have her at day-care in the morning and then pick her up as soon as possible after sixth period.” After school Kya either goes to her dad’s house or to Hailey’s house, depending on whether Hailey has to work or not. “I tried to limit my work schedule to three days a week,” Hailey said. “My bosses at Fareway are really accommodating and flexible.” Working until eight on school nights proves to be complicated for Hailey. After putting Kya to bed, she has to face the load of homework and studying. “You think working and homework is a stressful combination, but adding a baby on top of that gets really hard sometimes,” Hailey said. “I know the year hasn’t gotten in full swing yet, so the stress of school is just going to get even more overwhelming. Some nights I’m too tired to even open my backpack.” Hailey and Angus have both realized that sleep deprivation is one of the many difficult things parenting brings. Another challenge is that free time is taken up with taking care of their child. When Hailey does find a moment to hang out with her friends, she feels guilty leaving Kya. “Even when I know she is being taken care of, I feel bad,” Hailey said. “I want to spend every moment with her that I can.” It’s understandable the Hailey and Angus never want to leave Kya. She’s starting to form words and take important steps toward growing up. Seven months have gone by too fast for Kya’s parents, who remember the first time Kya opened her eyes, and the first time she said “dada.” “Whenever she gets a month older I want to cry,” Hailey said. “This whole year has been crazy, but I’m so blessed for Kya and what she’s brought to my life. We are a family; the love I feel for her is bigger than anything else.”
NG I N OPE N!!! SOO
Serving lunch and dinner
s ’ t r o h S
EASTSIDE Bringing a little bit of downtown IC to the Eastside!
521 Westbury Drive * 319.338.7743 * One door north of Anytime Fitness Formerly Mexico Wayne’s (for 6 days)
Check out a sample of our menu:
Beer Battered Pork Tenderloin w/ mustard, pickles and onions. An Iowa favorite! Dundee Burger sautéed mushrooms, bacon, fried egg, garlic aloli, American cheese
Beaconsfield Burger bacon, cheddar, barbeque sauce
Sac Chicken Sandwich grilled onions, Swiss, teriyaki sauce, wasabi mayonnaise
Hardin Chicken Sandwich buffalo chicken, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, bleu cheese
Jackson Junction Black Bean Burger: salsa, pepper jack, avocado mayonnaise Cheese Fries: green onions, sour cream, choice of bacon, chili or Short’s sauce *We serve local, 100% cornfed black angus beef that arrives fresh, never frozen*
*Also serving all-natural grilled chicken breasts and homemade vegetarian, black bean burgers*
Additionally, we will serve a Kid’s Menu, Chicken (Dylan) Fingers, wings, salads and some items from our former Mexico Wayne’s menu!
*Our buns are baked daily and our fries are hand-cut daily and seasoned to perfection*
Monday Night’s: $6.00 Burgers Tuesday Night’s: Half price Mexican Wednesday Night’s: Portion of profits goes to a local organization—contact us for info!
Like us on Facebook Short’s Burgers—Eastside and follow us on Twitter @shortseastside to get updates on our Opening Day… Let’s Go City High Little Hawks! The School That Leads! September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE
Foreign Invasion Exchange students 2012-2013
By Emma Baxter and Neil Harte
MARA KOSTNER, 17 Ortisei, Val Gardena, Italy
Mara Kostner is used to not living with her family. In her small village of Ortisei, Italy, Mara lived in a dorm to attend school during the week, and on weekends she would make the hour commute back home. When the opportunity arose to make an even longer trip away from home as a exchange student, she took the chance. “My teachers suggested an exchange trip with an organization called Education First,” Mara said. “At first I wanted to go to England for half of the year, but in the end I decided to go for a whole year in America.” Mara has already traveled around Europe, and since she’s been learning English since the sixth grade, she decided to come to the United States. “I’ve never been outside of Europe before. You always hear from the movies about American high school and life,” Mara said. “I wanted to live like a real American. It’s more special than England.” City High is the “opposite” of what school is like in Italy. She has no choice in what classes she wants to take at home. They also have many more subjects, which makes studying challenging. “I really like my graphic design class,” Mara said. “It’s a class I would never have been able to take back home. Contemporary Lit. is nice too, because I get to read books. All of my teachers are so nice.” Mara will have to take exams when she goes back home to determine whether or not she has to retake the year she missed. “It was one of the main reasons I was hesitant about coming for a whole year,” she said. “When I go back I will have to study hard in the summer to pass the exams. I’m trying not to think about it though.” So far Mara has enjoyed typical American things, like football games and four wheelers. She has also joined French Club and Best Buddies. The only thing she feels that she will miss is skiing in the winter. “I just want to try as many things as possible here,” Mara said. “I hope I gain more confidence and make new friends.”
LH FEATURE MAGAZINE September 21, 2012
MAREIKE STADLER, 16 Munich, Germany
Every foreign exchange student has their own reasons for wanting to study abroad, but perhaps none are quite as unique as Mareike Stadler’s. “I came to Iowa because of my sister,” Mareike said. “She is a senior here at City High.” As it happens, the sister Mareike traveled thousands of miles to see is not her actual sister, but rather Sara Frits, ’13, daughter of her host family. “I met Mareike during Orchestra’s trip to Germany this summer,” Sara said. “We became really close friends after that.” The two did not see each other for a number of months until Mareike heard about an exchange program that would allow her to spend a year in the United States. Through Education First, Mareike and Sara were able to reunite. “When I arrived, Sara ran out to me in the airport and gave me a big hug,” Mareike said. “That intensity was the reason we instantly became friends. Sara didn’t just walk up to me to shake my hand, she threw herself onto me.” Since that initial embrace in the Cedar Rapids airport, the pair have been virtually inseparable. Mareike does nothing without her new friend. “We both play in the symphony orchestra,” Mareike said. “I started playing the violin when I was five, so it was just a natural thing for me to do.” Outside of school, Mareike enjoys walking downtown with Sara to try out different restaurants. Friday nights, though, usually find the pair back at school and in the stands cheering on City High’s varsity football team. “The games are so emotional and everyone is so excited,” Mareike said. Mareike is staying a full year with Sara and her host parents in Iowa City. Although she misses her friends and family back home in outskirts of Munich, Germany’s third largest city, she feels like she has a whole new group of people she loves. “I hope to keep having an awesome time,” Mareike said. “It’s been fantastic so far, I consider Sara and her family my new home.”
LIDIYA MECHET, 15 Nikolaev, Ukraine
Making the move from southern Ukraine to the Midwest was a huge change for Lidiya Mechet, but the fifteen-year-old believes it was one definitely worth making. “This was the first time that I would ever be abroad by myself,” Lidiya said. “I was very nervous at first, but I decided to take that once in a lifetime opportunity.” Lidiya has her mother—a high school English teacher—to thank for a year in America. “My mom found a program that would let me spend a year abroad,” Lidiya said, “I took that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Through Future Leaders Exchange, a selective program that serves countries from the former Soviet Union, Lidiya was able to find a host family in Iowa City. And although she misses her parents, she has grown close to her new ones. “My hosts are very similar to my actual parents,” Lidiya said. “I was so surprised when I arrived. They were really nice and I couldn’t have been luckier.” Even though Lidiya is originally from the bustling port city of Nikolaev on the Black Sea (population, 500,000), where there are over 15 schools, not much about Iowa City caught Lidiya off guard. “The only thing that came as a shock was the school,” she said. “Nothing could have prepared me for City High.” By the time she had arrived on August 27th, school was already in full swing. Sports teams had long since started practicing, roles had been cast for this year’s school play, and Mr. Bacon had already delivered a number of enthusiastic speeches. “City High is so big,” Lidiya said. “In my hometown, school is a lot smaller. I’ve been with the same fifteen people my entire life. There are just so many options here.” Lidiya may have little interest in joining the cross country team or the marching band, but she plans on making a huge difference at The School That Leads. “I really want to join Best Buddies,” Lidiya said. “I hear they do great things and I want to change someone’s life. Best Buddies seems like a great way to do that.” So far, Lidiya has had a wonderful experience in Iowa. “I am meeting interesting people every day,” Lidiya said. “I know I will have a great year here.”
LEONARD BOHNER, 17 Duesseldorf, Germany
Leonard Bohner of Germany is a world traveler. Having already spent time in parts of Africa and Asia, he decided to further his experiences and knowledge by spending half the year going to school through a foreign exchange program. “My friend did a foreign exchange program and went to New Zealand,” Leonard said. “He had a great time so I thought about doing it myself.” Leonard asked his parents and they were hesitant at first, but then agreed that it would be a great experience for him. After a huge amount of paperwork, he found out that Iowa City would be his new temporary home. “I live in Duesseldorf, Germany,” Leonard said. “It’s a town ten times as big as Iowa City.” This drastic size difference didn’t bother him though. He soon found things to do with his host family. “There always seems to be a lot of stuff going on,” Leonard said. “I went to Regina’s Fall Fun Fest and that was really awesome.” He wasn’t expecting cliched American stereotypes, although he does find one thing funny. “You guys have drive-thrus everywhere!” he joked. “It’s weird, but that’s just part of the culture.” Leonard is only in Iowa City for six months because he didn’t want to retake the 10th grade when he returned home. “If I stayed a full year it would have put me behind in school back in Germany,” he said. “That was the main reason I chose to only stay for half the year.” The idea of going to an American high school was exciting, not daunting, for Leonard. He has a solid foundation of English and a strong grasp on subjects, most of which he has already been taking for four years. “I think my English is pretty good. I can understand what my teachers are saying most of the time,” Leonard said. “And so far all my classes are easy.” He tries to Skype with his family and friends twice a week, but right now he’s just immersing himself in our language and American culture. “I am excited for high school stuff,” Leonard said. “American things, I can’t wait for the rest of my time here.”
ANETTE NOSTED, 17 Mandal, Norway
After hearing many fascinating stories about life as a foreign exchange student, Anette Nosted decided that she wanted to experience it first hand. “When a friend of mine returned from a year in Colorado and told me how much fun she had, I was immediately interested,” Anette said. “From that point on, I knew that I wanted to study abroad for a year.” Although Anette had vacationed in California with her family a number of years ago, this is her first time actually living in the U.S. Through the The Rotary Foundation’s International Youth Exchange--a program that has sent over 1.2 million students abroad since its creation in the 1920s--Anette’s dream of going to school in America became a reality in 2012. “I was very excited,” Anette said, “but I still really had to think it through before making any final decisions. It’s a big choice to make.” Leaving her friends and family behind in the small fishing village of Mandal on the southern tip of Norway was a tough decision, but one that Anette was willing to make. “I had to make a decision, and this is the one I made.” Other than the scorching weather, not much about the U.S. surprised Anette when she first arrived in early August. She had already heard so much about day-to-day life from her friends, that she knew what to expect to some degree. However, extracurriculars in school still came as a shock. “Nothing is connected through school in Norway,” Anette said. “If you want to do a sport, you would join a club. School was just school, nothing more.” Anette took advantage of this major difference and joined the the City High girls’ cross country team, where she runs every day with her host, Hannah Langenfeld. “I heard that the girls on the team were really nice and supportive so I said decided to try it out. It’s been pretty good so far.” When not studying for physics or running laps around the track, Anette enjoys spending time with an ever-growing number of friends. Usually, this consists of going shopping at the mall and watching “classy” comedies such as “Superbad” until the early hours in the morning. “I want to improve my English by the time I leave,” Anette said. “I also want to meet a lot of new people. I know I will have a great year.”
JOSEF AMULLER, 16 Regensburg, Germany
Encouraged by his two older siblings, Jakob and Maria, who both spent a year at City High, Josef Amuller made the trip from Regensburg, Germany, to Iowa City, hoping to share the same experiences they did. “We had a lot of connections with my exchange program, Youth for Understanding,” Josef said. “My dad, brother, and sister all spent a year in America, so we had relations with the group.” When Josef arrived in Iowa City on August 10th, he was nervous but excited to meet everyone. “It was the first time would see my host family,” Josef said. “Everything was new. I hoped to get a good impression of everything American.” After spending time adjusting to his new home, he began to appreciate what his new city had to offer. “Regensburg is a bigger city, but I love how Iowa City isn’t too big,” Josef said. “You can meet a lot of people and do cool things.” Transitioning into American high school was what Josef expected. He has been learning English for five years, but was still concerned with the language barrier. “It wasn’t that challenging to get used to hearing only English,” Josef said. “I caught on fast. I’ve improved so much already, and it will probably just come naturally with time.” City High is very different than his high school in Germany. After you graduate from elementary school you take a placement test to determine what school you move on to next. There is a lower, middle, and upper school. “We don’t have any sports connected with our school either,” he said. “All we do is academics. I like American high school more, definitely, but it has its advantages and disadvantages.” Because his school doesn’t have school sports, Josef ran club track and field in Germany, so he was used to running when he joined City High’s cross country team. “It was also a perfect opportunity to meet people,” Josef said. When he returns home Josef will have to make up the year of school he missed. But going to school an extra year is worth it to him. “I don’t really care that I will be behind,” Josef said. “It’s worth it, I just want to experience the American lifestyle, high school especially.”
September 21, 2012 LH FEATURE MAGAZINE