CORDOVA — Exchange students from five different countries are enrolled at Cordova High School.Leonie Sehnert (Germany), Noppharat Saeheng "June" (Thailand), Gonzalo Oteros (Spain), KyeongHun Han …
CORDOVA — Exchange students from five different countries are enrolled at Cordova High School.
Leonie Sehnert (Germany), Noppharat Saeheng "June" (Thailand), Gonzalo Oteros (Spain), KyeongHun Han (South Korea) and Leo Vandrebecq (France) are all Blue Devils for the 2019-20 school year.
Despite their differences, the students all consider themselves athletes and plan to play sports at Cordova, if they are not on a team already. Cordova's school spirit around athletics, including its pep rallies and the annual homecoming celebration, were all first-time experiences for the group.
"We don't have school spirit," Saeheng said of Thailand. "We don't have sports at school. We have a PE class we have to do, but we don't have sports after school.
"I like everything about here, and I've wanted to come here for a long time."
Most of the students have also enjoyed the small-town feel of Cordova.
"In Cordova, everybody knows each other," Vandrebecq said.
"It's so different here, and the teachers are so much nicer," Sehnert added.
Oteros has been on the school's football team this year and says making new friends proved a bit challenging, but that quickly changed.
"The first days it was difficult to make friends, but whenever people are talking to you and you're nice with them and they're nice with you, you have a lot of friends in a small period of time," Oteros said.
For Han, coming to Cordova was an adjustment after living in a large city in South Korea.
"It's a lot smaller," Han said of Cordova. "Traffic is different. There's no bus or subway. It's a little bit hard."
At the end of the school year, most of the students will travel back home. In Germany and Thailand, Sehnert and Saeheng, both juniors, will be required to repeat their 11th-grade year.
Sophomores Han and Oteros will continue their educations in their respective countries as both decide what they want to major in one day in college.
Vandrebecq will graduate at Cordova High and hopes to get a college basketball scholarship to stay in America. His goal is to be a coach.
In a school of nearly 500 youth, all of the exchange students still manage to support one another.
"We stay together almost all the time so nobody is alone," Sehnert said.