The European connection

With the COVID-19 or coronavirus affecting everyone in the United States, it's particularly hard for exchange students who are far from home during this pandemic. Three of those students who are also high school students in Guilford County spoke about their experiences.

MATTIA CECCHINI

Exchange

Mattia Cecchini at his host family’s home in Greensboro.

Age: 17.

Hometown: San Remo, Italy.

Family: Parents, Manola and Federico; older sisters, Martina and Mariasole.

High school: Southwest Guilford, junior.

Sports: Soccer, tennis.

Host: David Lyall.

WHAT HE'S SAYING

On how hard it is to be apart from his family at this time:

"I'm sure that they miss me, but they can understand that I'm living a good experience for my future, learning a new language, meeting new people, learning a new culture."

On how hard it is to hear about what's happening in Italy:

"It's not good news every day when I see websites with all the cases in Italy, of the deaths. It's hard. It's a lot of worrying because the situation is bad."

On his family's situation:

"They are good, but they have to just stay home. I know it's going to improve."

On whether he will stay in Colfax to finish the school year if classes resume:

"Probably, I'll have to go back home because of the situation with the coronavirus one of these weeks, unfortunately."

On whether he'd like to return:

"I will come back, yeah, even if it's just to visit my host dad, because our rapport is really strong. This is a good country. It's beautiful here. Next year I'm going to finish school in Italy, take the Italian diploma, and after I'll see if I can come back here for college. My American dream is to go to college to play soccer, have a lot of fun and get a college degree."

PAULA GRAICHEN

Paula Graichen

Greensboro Day junior Paula Graichen, an exchange student from Germany, on how her family is handling being apart from her: "Of course it's hard to have a family member in the United States at this time and not knowing all the time that they're fine, but they feel comfortable because they've met my host family and they know that they'll take care of me and they trust them."

Age: 16.

Hometown: Munich, Germany.

Family: Parents, Ulrike and Goetz; older sister, Anna.

High school: Greensboro Day, junior.

Sport: Basketball.

Host family: The Howards.

WHAT SHE'S SAYING

On how her family is handling being apart at this time:

"Of course it's hard to have a family member in the United States at this time and not knowing all the time that they're fine, but they feel comfortable because they've met my host family and they know that they'll take care of me and they trust them."

On how things are in Germany:

"It's quite bad, worse than in the U.S. Many more cases, a lockdown in a couple of cities and no school for at least five weeks."

On whether she will stay in Greensboro to finish the school year if classes resume:

"Yes, I think so. The coronavirus is here and in Germany, so it doesn't really affect my decision on coming back."

On her experience at Greensboro Day:

"Everyone enjoys playing together and outside the gym we hang out together. It's been a very good experience for me."

ARTHUR LOZAC'H

Exchange

Southest Guilford junior Arthur Lozac’h.

Age: 16.

Hometown: Lannion, France.

Family: Parents, Corinne and Christophe; older sisters, Justine and Mathilde.

High school: Southwest Guilford, junior.

Sports: Cross country, track.

Host: David Lyall.

Previous experience as an exchange student: Two months in New Zealand in summer 2019.

WHAT HE'S SAYING

On what it's like having parents' who are physicians in France during this health crisis:

"They're doctors (mom, Corinne, is a radiologist and father, Christophe, is a family practice physician), so its' kind of like they're the first line (of defense). They know everything that is happening in France. I kind of worry for them, but I know they're fine."

On how hard it is to be away from home right now:

"With the virus, I miss them more now than I did a month ago because I'm more worried for them than I was, especially with them being doctors. Still, I trust them. It's hard because I can't do anything until I get back."

On how his parents feel about him being in another country at this time:

"If this decision makes me happy, they're happy for me. They miss me like I miss them, but they know I'm living a great experience. Even if it ends in two weeks, they know it's been a great year."

On what it's like back home in France:

"It's like Italy, a big lockdown where you can't go out of your house except for groceries and to go to the pharmacy. The police will give you a ticket if you're out without any good reason. But there are less coronavirus cases than in Italy."

On whether he will stay in Colfax to finish the school year if classes resume:

"If I can, but it looks like I'll have to go back to France. I wish I could stay until June."

On being able to share this experience with another exchange student:

"It's really helped me. We're about the same age and we have a strong relationship."

Contact Joe Sirera at 336-373-7034, and follow @JoeSireraNR on Twitter.

Recommended for you

Load comments