Combarro has adjusted well to his life in America


Fibi Kim

Estudiante de intercambio, Manuel Combarro (a la derecha) estudia en la clase de inglés. Devon Shewmaker (a la izquierda).

After spending the past 13 years hosting over 30 exchange students, orchestra teacher Thomas Wright and his wife were happy to welcome two more foreign students into their home, one of whom is senior Manuel Combarro. Arriving from Spain over seven months ago, Combarro was faced with experiencing a new culture, meeting new friends, speaking another language, as well as attending a much bigger school than the one he attended in Spain. He believes his English has improved a little over the school year as he has adapted well to life in the United States.

At the beginning of the year, Combarro believed he would have a hard time adjusting to talking to his family only once every 15 days. This semester, however, he is happy to get to speak with his loved ones each week as he reports his grades to his high school in Spain.

“I really liked [America] when I came, and I still really like it now,” Combarro stated.

Living with a teacher who works at the same school could have its advantages and disadvantages for any student. According to Combarro, living with Wright has been very helpful because any problem that arises at school can be resolved faster. However, he doesn’t enjoy waking up early and having to stay late in order for Wright to get done with his after-school activities.

Wright says that it is his and his wife’s goal as host parents to treat their exchange students as family members while showing Christian morals, kindness and compassion to them. They believe that it is their purpose in life to assist foreign exchange students.

“We see it as an outgrowth of our Christian convictions… it’s like being a pastor to them, helping them get through this phase of life,” Wright said.   

Wright and his wife have no preferences from which countries the exchange students come,  but due to their knowledge of Spanish, there are fewer language barriers between him and students who are native Spanish speakers. Wright and his wife both have minors in Spanish and have taught internationally in Spanish speaking countries. Because of this, Wright considers himself “highly functional” in the Spanish language. Even so, they do not typically speak Spanish at home because, Combarro, like his other exchange students, enjoys speaking in English to improve his language skills. Wright says that he occasionally will assist Combarro if something is very difficult to translate. Other than that, Wright says he uses Spanish only to annoy Manuel.

So far, Combarro  has a positive outlook on living in a new country and learning English. Wright is happy to add on to his family of exchange students.