This year, Nevada High School has hosted two foreign exchange students, Monica Marco of Spain and Imelda Mata of Mozambique.


These students sat down with Editor Marlys Barker for a question-and-answer session last week. Here are each of their answers to the questions asked.


Monica Marco


1. Who are your host parents this year?“I have stayed with two families. First, Brett and Beatrice Sponseller, and second, Jesse and Betsy Tibedeau.”


2. What was your first reaction when you found out you were coming to Iowa? “I cried. I talked to other exchange students and they were all from good states — one going to Washington, D.C. and one going to Philadelphia, Penn.”


3. Now what do you think about coming to Iowa? “I just love it. The main reason is the people. When I came here I didn’t have friends, but right now I have lots of friends.”


4. What activities have you taken part in this year? Junior Rotarians, track (she’s a sprinter on the JV team)


5. What is your favorite thing about Nevada High School? “I like the difference of school here and the freedom you have to choose classes and have blocks and periods. In Spain, we have six classes (basic math, science and so forth), and everyone has the same classes.” She said you have three classes then take a 30 minute break, then have the other three classes, every day is the same schedule.


6. What favorite class or classes have you taken at Nevada? “Sociology and sewing”


7. What’s the best place you’ve been able to travel to this year? “Chicago! … It’s a huge city with lots of traffic, huge but not as big as New York (which she plans to visit yet). It was easy to walk to a lot of places in Chicago.” She visited it over spring break.


8. What is your favorite food in America? “Well, first I will say you have better junk food here than we do in Spain. But I really like to eat healthy … here that is a little difficult… But my favorite is, I loved all the things at Thanksgiving…the ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes… all of it.”


9. What did you think of prom? “I liked it. I went to homecoming but didn’t have many friends and it was boring. For prom, I went with a group of friends and it was fun… seeing everyone with their dresses.”


10. What are your future plans and how will your time in America ultimately help you in life? “I will first finish high school. I have one more year of it in Spain. Then, I want to study marketing and do something with business and fashion. I would like to come back here to go to Iowa State maybe. I think this year has made me more independent, that is for sure… I’m not much of a family person, because back home I like hanging out with my friends more, but I was homesick here at first. Then I made friends and I had another life here. I’m more open-minded, have more respect now for others’ opinions and I’m more responsible.”


Imelda Mata


1. Who are your host parents this year? “Priscilla and Jarod Gammon”


2. What was your first reaction when you found out you were coming to Iowa? “When I hear about Iowa, I hear about Nevada (she pronounced the state), and I think I was going to Nevada (the state). I was just happy to come to the United States, and experience the freedom here, so I didn’t really care where.” It wasn’t until she got to the U.S. and one of the coordinators told her she was coming to Nevada, IOWA.


3. Now what do you think about coming to Iowa? “When I got here, I was 100 percent excited about everything…America, school, friends… I got a little frustrated with the lack of movement, though. You know, people walking places. People weren’t out moving around like I’m used to back home.” She said she eventually got used to the fact that we use cars here, but she looks forward to more walking when she gets home.


4. What activities have you taken part in this year? “Musical, the play, volleyball, soccer and Key Club”


5. What is your favorite thing about Nevada High School? “I kind of like the teachers, they are all so kind. And the students also, they are always willing to help you. All the people here are willing to help you at any time.”


6. What favorite class or classes have you taken at Nevada? “Choir…I enjoy singing and dancing.”


7. What’s the best place you’ve been able to travel to this year? “I went to Florida…the weather, because we went in the winter, was so warm, it reminded me of Mozambique. I also went to Washington, D.C. (with a group of other exchange students in her program). We saw the monuments, museums, theatre, the White House and got to meet Iowa Senator Ernst and other representatives of Iowa.”


8. What is your favorite food in America? “Actually, there are a lot of good things I’ve tried here. I’m used to vegetables a lot (back home). Here, I like burritos; I love desserts, like cinnamon rolls and brownies; and I love pizza — sausage pizza from George’s and Casey’s.”


9. What did you think of prom? “I loved it. First, because I didn’t get to go to prom back home. I came to (Nevada’s) prom with a group of friends. I really enjoyed the banquet, after-prom and the dance. The dance was probably my favorite part.”


10. What are your future plans and how will your time in America ultimately help you in life? “I plan to go to college next year to study medicine. My parents would like me to come back to the United States (for college), but I’d have to get a scholarship (to afford that). This year has taught me how to be more independent. I’ve adjusted to a new family that is so kind. I got to do lots of fun stuff, make new friends and it helped with my English (skills).”


In closing:


Marco said she wanted to say one last thing: “Iowa is the best state in the country!” She said she feels that way now, because of the people. “It’s always about the people,” Marco said. Mata agreed with her. “People are kind and they just want to know more about you all the time.”