People can learn from a different culture
By: Laurel Wren Emerson
Catalina Amer Rigo, a junior at Redwater High School, is on exchange from Spain, and she feels that she will gain a lot from this experience.
“I would encourage more students in America to be exchange students,” Catalina said. “Redwater is so small and different.”
The Windham family is hosting Catalina, with parents Matt, Stephanie, and sons 12- year-old Mason and 13- year-old Seth.
“The world is bigger than Redwater, and I want my boys to experience that,” Stephanie said. “I also want to be able to give Catalina as many enriching experiences as possible.”
The biggest contrast between Spain and America is school, according to Catalina. At Redwater, the students have the same classes every day. In Spain, the students have different subjects each day.
“The teacher moves during the school day, not the students, and we don’t have lockers,” Catalina said. “Every class also has a tutor. I thought Redwater would be big.”
Catalina, a resident of Inca, Majorica, which is an island off the coast of Spain, says a big difference is the distance between cities and small towns, as well as vehicles.
“The sizes of the vehicles are also different,” Catalina said. “We have small vehicles like the Mini-Cooper and Fiats, not big trucks.”
As well as adjusting to school and the travel, Catalina has also had to adjust to the weather. Redwater is far from her normal beach scenery, but the different shopping is one of her favorite aspects of America.
“Compared to Spain, it is very cold everywhere,” Catalina said. “Also, here, you can go to one store and buy everything. The stores are bigger and have more.”
While Catalina is learning a lot from her time in America, she is also exposing the Windham family to a new worldview.
“I find her very interesting and am glad she is here with us,” Matt said. “I am so used to thinking that, because I live in the U.S., the kids behave the same in both cultures. I am finding that is not necessarily true.”
Although Redwater is small, the school district frequently has foreign exchange students. This year, Catalina was nominated for the homecoming court, and her host father was her escort.
“I was so excited; I became one of ‘those moms,’” Stephanie said. “Matt was excited and was hoping she picked him to escort because this will be his only chance to do so.”
With two boys in the house, Matt and Stephanie feel that having a girl around filled a hole they didn’t know they had.
“I have always wanted a girl at home, and Matt feels like he has and will learn a lot from her,” Stephanie said. “We feel she has rounded out our family.”