Don’t Be a Foreigner to Broadneck’s Foreign Exchange Students

Do other cultures interest you?– if so, get to know Broadneck’s five foreign exchange students.


Broadneck has welcomed five foreign exchange students into its student body, who have brought with them fresh perspectives on what the Bruin life is like. Roberto Mazza, Cristina Abella, Johann Kloth, Simon Corrias, and Anhelina Kharovska are all 11th graders and residents of the Broadneck Peninsula for the 2018-19 school year.

Meet Roberto…

  • Favorite Color: yellow
  • Favorite Movie: Interstellar
  • Favorite Food: pasta
  • Hobbies: playing basketball and watching sports on TV
  • Fun Fact: He has three nationalities (Spanish, Dutch, and Italian)
johan, roberto and simon before homecoming
Johan, Roberto and Simon before Homecoming 

Roberto Mazza’s (11) home is Madrid, Spain, but he is living Annapolis, MD for this school year. Mazza came to America through the American Field Service Intercultural Program.

AFS has sent 400,000 students to study abroad to nearly fifty countries. AFS believes that immersion into a different country and experiencing a different culture develops leadership skills that are in demand in today’s world.

“We hear a lot about the U.S. in Europe,” Mazza said. “I guess it’s where everybody wants to go because of the movies.” Mazza says that studying abroad is kind of a family tradition since his dad and grandfather also came to America when they were young.

Broadneck is a much bigger school than Mazza was used to. He said that his school in Madrid is from the 19th century with only around eighty people in his grade. Mazza recommends to anyone curious about becoming a foreign exchange student to go to Spain. “It’s a great country,” he says.

Meet Johann…

  • Favorite Color: Blue
  • Favorite Movie: Deadpool
  • Favorite Food: Döner
  • Hobbies: Playing tennis and soccer
  • Fun Fact: “I don’t know”

Johann Kloth (11) is from Berlin, Germany, but he’s living in Annapolis for this school year. Kloth says he likes Broadneck but that it’s different from the school system that he has back in Germany. “We also have twelve grades in Germany, but we don’t have the seniors with freshman,” he says. Each grade is separate, and the schools are much smaller in Berlin.

Kloth had the option of going to either the United States, Great Britain, or Ireland through his exchange program. “I just wanted to go to the big America,” he said. A difference he’s noticed so far between the cultures of his home country and the United States is that the portion sizes are bigger here. Also, Kloth says that holidays, like Halloween, are celebrated more. “At this point in the year you see barely any Halloween decorations in Germany,” he said

One of Kloth’s favorite parts about his Broadneck experience, so far, is the football games. “I like football games,” Kloth said. “And I loved homecoming. We don’t have that in Germany.” Kloth also looks forward to going to basketball games in the winter. So far, Kloth has noticed many differences between Germany and America, but he says that he really likes being here.

Meet Cristina…

  • Favorite Color: Green
  • Favorite Movie: Avatar
  • Favorite Food: Croquetas (“coquetas is like balls of meat and bechamel”)
  • Hobbies: Sailing and hanging out with friends
  • Fun Fact: She has never seen snow falling, in person.
christina with rotary exchange students from us
Christina with other Rotary Exchange Students from the United States

Cristina Abella (11) is joining Broadneck from La Coruna, Spain. Many foreign exchange students repeat the year of school in their home country after their year abroad. As a junior, Abella is not skipping the year of school, when she returns to Spain she’ll be entering her senior year. “I have a lot of homework to do at night, when I go home,” she says. “A lot more than in Spain.”

Abella says that Broadneck is quite bigger than her old school, with a lot more people her age. “It’s great to make a lot more friends,” she said. “I like it. It’s more interactive.”

After hearing about homecoming, prom, and other American traditions, through a friend, Abella decided she wanted to come to the United States as an exchange student. “I decided I wanted to learn a new language, and a new culture, and make new friends,” Abella said.

Since she’s arrived, about one month ago, Abella said she hasn’t had any bad moments and that she feels like it has been all good experiences so far. Abella is staying with junior, Julia Barrow and sophomore, Lia Barrow’s  family for the first three months of the school year and then she will join another host family. “I’ve been so lucky having Julia and Lia and this great family,” she says. “If I didn’t have siblings, I would have come to the school without knowing anyone, and it would have been really hard.”

Having studied English since she was two-years-old, Abella left Spain with an advanced level of English already, so a language barrier hasn’t been hindering her experiences. She says that it’s only when she’s tired that she has trouble understanding people.

“Everything is different, but I’m starting to adapt,” Abella says. Abella enjoys her year so far. She said she has made a lot of new friends. “It’s really, really good. I really like it,” she says. “I would recommend it to everyone.” She says that if anyone is interested, they can always talk to her about the foreign exchange experience.

Broadneck Student Abroad…

Broadneck student, Patrick Oliver (11) is spending the school year in Valladolid, Spain through the Rotary program, which Cristina is a member of, also. He says that it has been great so far and a smooth adaption. “The food is great here, and the people are even better,” Oliver said. According to Oliver, the people are more open and laid back than in the U.S. and in Spain, students call adults by their first names, even teachers. At school, if he’s late to class by a minute or two after the bell rings, it isn’t a big deal.

“School’s a little bit tough right now,” Oliver said. “I can’t understand everything, and this is already a hard year for the natives.” Oliver has put much of his energy into learning the language more efficiently. “I’m confident that it will get easier in a couple months when my Spanish is better.”

To anyone curious about participating in a youth exchange program, Oliver says to go for it. “If you want to learn a new language, become involved with different cultures, gain more independence,and many more benefits, this is the program for you,” he says.

Vernon Penner works for Rotary in the Annapolis area, and every year he encourages the Broadneck Interact Club to participate in Rotary’s foreign exchange program, in some way or another, whether that is becoming a foreign exchange or hosting one.

“It makes us better citizens in our own countries,” Penner said. “And certainly, it makes us better aware of how understanding can contribute to peace.” As stated on their website, the Rotary International Foundation’s primary mission is to “advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through… the support of education.” The benefits of being involved with a program like this go on and on.

“I think you build up a little confidence in yourself by being able to kind of stretch things a little bit and getting out of your own comfort zone,” Penner said. Another takeaway from the experience he says is that living in a foreign country creates permanent contacts as well as an awareness of how other people live. He recommends that if you aren’t curious about other places in the world, then a year abroad probably isn’t worth the effort.

“We live in a digital age right now,” Penner said. “And one of the scary things is that people can go around and interface only with their iPhone without looking at people, without sitting and talking to people.” He says that these programs are not for people who want to live in a bubble; they are for people who want to see, learn , appreciate other cultures outside of what you can in Arnold or Annapolis.

Click here for more information about the Rotary foreign exchange program.


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