Meet One of Polk County’s Exchange Students
By Steve Munson for LakelandLocal.com
Sevil is an eighteen-year-old exchange student from Azerbaijan. She is from the city of Baku which is the capital as well as the largest city in her home country. She is staying with the Melendez family in Lakeland and attends Lakeland High School.
Q. What are your natural parents names and what do they do?
A. My mother is Gulnara and she works as a clerk. My father is Hafiz and I really have no idea what he does.
Q. Do you have any siblings?
A. Yes, I have a younger sister.
Q. What do you do in your free time in your home country?
A. I spend most of my free time hanging out with my friends.
Q. What are some of your favorite sports or hobbies?
A. Reading books, volleyball, gymnastics, and shopping!
Q. What has been your biggest surprise about life in America?
A. It’s such a totally different life here; the culture, the customs. It’s way easier here.
Q. What is the biggest difference between America and your home country?
A. A large part of the population in Azerbaijan is still old-fashioned. They think that men are supposed to play a better role in society than females. Also, females are expected to dress much more conservatively than they do here.
Q. How do you compare the education you receive in your home country to your school here?
A. School is much easier here. I rarely have to spend much time doing homework.
Q. What is your favorite food in your home country? America?
A. My favorite Azerbaijani food is dolma (beef in grape wraps,with tomatoes and eggplant). I love almost all American dishes; pizzas, hamburgers, Subway, donuts, and candies.
Q. How is the food different here?
A. In my country, we eat a lot more fruits, vegetables, and greens. I would eat fast food maybe once every two months.
Q. What has been the most fun since you got here?
A. Definitely the cruise to the Caribbean!!!!
Q. What do you miss about your home country?
A. I do miss my friends, our people sometimes, and my city, but I am very used to being here now.
Q. What did you expect from your stay in the U.S.?
A. I didn’t really think about it that much before coming here. The USA seemed to be totally perfect, but after living here, I saw that it’s more real than perfect. You have both happiness and sadness.
Q. What would you like to do before you return to your home country?
A. I want to go to Disney, and it’s my dream to jump with a parachute but I think I can’t do it, and also try as many different kinds of donuts as possible!
ASSE was originally founded in 1938 by the Swedish National Ministry of Education. It sponsored exchange programs between Germany and Sweden. In the late 1940s, the program was expanded to include exchange programs with France, Great Britain and other countries in Europe. In March of 1976, at the recommendation of the United States State Department, ASSE was incorporated as a not for profit organization in the United States.
Today, ASSE provides student exchange opportunities for students from Scandinavia, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, Japan, Thailand, China, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union.
For more information about the exchange student program and how you can become a host parent, contact Brandy Munson at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.facebook.com/brandy.asse, or visit http://www.meetup.com/Central-Florida-Exchange-Student-Interest-Group/.
photo credit: Steve Munson for Lakeland Local