Guatemalan girls farewell after two-month exchange experience at SEM

December 18, 2017


Decorating the Christmas tree, hanging bright lights and putting holiday music are all part of ending 2017 with good cheer. It’s also the end of exchange experience for our two Guatemalan exchange students Maria (Ale) DeLeon Quiñónez and Ana (Isabel) Franco Ordoñez at SEM.

Coming on a warm mid-October day, Ale and Isabel built a strong relationship with SEM community over the past two months. They admired the beauty of Niagara Falls, went trick-or-treating with other residential students on Halloween night, enjoyed good Thanksgiving meals at Mrs. Ann More’s house and French teacher Madame Isabelle Fisher’s house, and jumped into the Snowball dance in the chapel. They even learned about America from Starbucks.

“Starbucks is perceived as a luxury brand in Guatemala and I barely go there, ” said Ale. “But my friend told me it is a part of American culture.”

However, making a way in a strange land is often a challenge, especially during in class.

“There were lots of vocabulary words that are used in Dr. Walter’s American literature and it was pretty hard to understand what they mean in the works of literature sometimes,” Isabel recalled how she got sketchy situations at times.

With the teachers and students’ supports, both of them thought that not only have their English language skills improved, so has their cultural awareness.

In the chill December air, there is no better sign of waving goodbye in Buffalo than experiencing snow falling from the sky. Before their return on Friday, December 8, the Guatemalan girls video shared a list of 20 fun facts about their exchange experience.

Jocelyn Yang

“I will miss her great personality and how she was always smiling,” said Lilly Kahng ’21, who was Ale’s French classmate and has grown close to her.

At the end of the video, Ale and Isabel have showed their appreciation to SEM community. “We are so grateful for everything we’ve learned at SEM. We have made more incredible memories than I can even count,” Ale and Isabel said in front of the camera. “Hopefully, people know something about Guatemalan now. It won’t be too long till we come to Buffalo next time.”

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