August 1, 2014

Medina
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Belgium teen comes to Brunswick in exchange program

BRUNSWICK — When Estelle Mizrabi graduated from high school last year, she decided she wasn’t ready for college quite yet, so she elected to take on a different challenge: another year of high school in a foreign country.

A native of Belgium, Mizrabi is taking classes at Brunswick High School and will live with three different Brunswick families throughout the year.

Estelle Mizrabi, center, of Belgium, poses with her first set of host parents, Jack Young and Marsha Pappalardo, of Brunswick. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Estelle Mizrabi, center, of Belgium, poses with her first set of host parents, Jack Young and Marsha Pappalardo, of Brunswick. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“I decided to do something new, to discover another culture and to meet other people and to improve my English,” Mizrabi, 18, said. “It’s a good experience for me.”

She said she chose to come to the United States because “for a lot of students in the European continent, America is the dream.”

The year abroad is part of a 50-year-old exchange program through Rotary International.

Her first set of host parents, Jack Young and Marsha Pappalardo, head the program for their Rotary district.

“It’s a one-on-one exchange,” Pappalardo said. “If we send out 12 students, we take in 12 students.”

The students are required to attend school in their new country, which is why Mizrabi is taking high school classes again.

She’s even taking French, her native language.

“Sometimes I take the place of the teacher,” Mizrabi said. “I correct sometimes, I say, ‘Oh, I think it’s that or this word or maybe this word is better than the other.’ ”

Pappalardo said the help has been well received.

“The teacher was just thrilled to have her,” she said.

But what Mizrabi is learning outside of the classroom has proved to be just as challenging as American history and literature, she said.

Pappalardo said idiomatic phrases and common American expressions seem to be the sticking point for all foreign students.

“I asked her if she wanted to play hooky,” Pappalardo said. Thinking she was about to skate on ice with a stick and a puck, Mizrabi seemed less than excited. “I told her we’re going to take the day off and go out to lunch. She liked that much better.”

With the rest of her time here, Mizrabi will take trips with other exchange students to Disney World and the east and west coasts.

In the meantime, she said she’ll reflect on what she wants to do when she gets back to Belgium.

“I think I need to learn new things, meet other people and exchange my opinions with them,” she said. “I think it’s good for me.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.