All-world people from all around the world

South welcomes three exchange students this year.


Courtesy of Alessandro Mateos

(Left to Right) Alessandro Mateos, Kashish Yadav and Benji Adejoh hang out and take a picture after a kayaking trip.

What do you think of when you think of America? Freedom and Independence, or mean fat people? Foreign exchange student Alessandro Mateos, who is from Spain, thought the latter. 

“I thought a lot of people would be fat, only eat fast food, also that they’d be really bad at soccer,’ Mateos said. “Also that they wouldn’t be that friendly. None of that was true.”

Benjamin (Benji) Adejoh, who is from Nigeria, had a different vision of America.

“I thought it’d be like Disney World, full of incredible things,’ Adejoh said. ‘You think everything will be easy, but it’s not. I was kind of correct, just not the way I imagined it.”

New year, new foreign exchange students. From India to Nigeria, there’s so much to learn about the new students and how their exchange process happened. So, here’s an introduction.

Meet Kashish Yadav, Adejoh, and Mateos. Yadav is a junior from India, which is in Southern Asia, who loves to dance and play volleyball. She said she also enjoys going to football games and would like to be active in a lot of clubs at South.  Adejoh is also a junior. He is from Nigeria, which is in West Africa, and plays on the varsity soccer team for South. He said he enjoys a bunch of other sports like basketball and volleyball. He also enjoys singing. Mateos is a sophomore from Spain, which is in Western Europe, who plays on the JV soccer team for South. He enjoys traveling and has traveled to many countries, and is looking forward to making new friends here at South.

“I was so surprised when I came. I fit in with the system really well, I understood things very fast. I just miss home sometimes, but that’s it,” Adejoh said.

Yadav had a similar situation to Adejoh.

“The challenges in the new country weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be, as I was already having good communication with my host family,” Yadav said. ‘They’ve been awesome.” 

Yadav’s host family, the Finan’s (Roger and Sidney) are also hosting Mateos. 

“They (the Finans) introduced me to people, like other exchange students.” Mateos said. ‘They also showed me to the school.”

Imagine traveling to a country that you’ve never been to before, and only knowing what you’ve heard in stories and seen in movies. Sounds frightening. Thankfully, we have host families here at South who are willing to help these students. One of these families is the Cameron family. The Camerons are hosting Adejoh. Adejoh’s host brother Dexter Cameron is a junior at South.

“I’ve always wanted a brother, and I was able to help in the process of picking Benji to live with us, so it was awesome,” Cameron said.

Adejoh had nothing but praise for the Cameron family.

“They’re very nice and they treat me like family,” Adejoh said. ‘They’re loving, caring, and just the best. Dexter is a fun person and we play a bunch of games. We laugh and joke, and have a good time.”

The foreign exchange process is not easy, as shown in both students’ journeys. Exams at the start of journey were mandatory, but later in the process, it’s the students’ decision to keep going.

“There were a lot of procedures. Interviews, debates, and competitions with over 1,000 people competing. It was a very long process,” Yadav said.

Adejoh had a similar process.

“Long procedures. It’s very difficult and you need a lot of endurance. There’s exams, interviews, programs, and you have to leave school for interviews. There are a lot of sacrifices. Exams started in 2020. So it’s a 2-year process,” Adejoh said.

Mateos had a different procedure. He didn’t get a scholarship. His tests weren’t mandatory, and he had to apply on his own. He also said his process took about a year.

“I applied for the AFS program, they told me what the plan was here, and I did have to take some tests, like English tests to be able to come on the trip,” Mateos said.

Amy Hubbard, Yadav’s U.S. History teacher, had high praise for Yadav and foreign exchange students that she’s had in the past.

“My only concern with exchange students has been the language barrier,” Hubbard said, ‘but in the past, my foreign exchange students have been great and had no problems, and it looks like it’ll be the same way for Kashish.”

Hubbard said she learns a lot from having exchange students in her classes.

“I love having foreign exchange students in my class because I learn so much from them, and they’re always such fun students,” Hubbard said.

Yadav, Mateos, and Adejoh are already settling in, so catch the new foreign exchange students before it’s too late. They all say they can’t wait to meet as many people as they can.

“It’s a new experience but so far it’s very good and fun,” Yadav said. ‘The high school is great; I love everything about it.”