Meet the AFS exchange students at Cleveland Heights High School

Students in the AFS Club at Heights High.

Eight AFS foreign exchange students are attending Heights High this year, and bringing their unique experiences to the classroom and to their host families.

Justin Hons, who teaches American government at Heights High, appreciates the international perspective that the AFS students add to his classroom discussions. “It is enlightening for American students to learn that the American way is not the only way things are done,” he said. “In an era of globalization and American exceptionalism, it is helpful to hear different perspectives from the AFS students.”

The students are from Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and Europe. They belong to the AFS Club along with several immigrant and native-born students who meet weekly after school in Carolyn Robb’s classroom.

Robb is the club advisor and a French teacher. She helps the students acclimate to the school and plan social events. “The club brings students together in a welcoming environment,” she said. “These bright young people are eager to integrate into the Heights community and learn about American culture, and the Heights students and their families are curious and appreciative of the exchange students’ cultures and backgrounds.”

To follow is a list of AFS students with their home country, host family and what they like about Heights High:

  • Nana M’Barka Ali, Mali, (Bailey-Walker family). “The teachers and students are so friendly and I appreciate the opportunity to study here. This community is beautiful. I like it when people ask me about my country.”
  • Khaby Ba, Senegal,
 (Conrad family). “The diversity, learning about American history and my health class. I am very glad to have this experience in the United States.”
  • Weena Chaibangpul, Thailand, (Conrad family). “The teachers and the soccer team. I am so glad that I could be on the team, it was my favorite thing, so far. Thank you to Heights High for this opportunity.”
  • Diego Fretes, Paraguay,(Kauffman-Wisniewski family). “I met really great people on the soccer team and will play tennis in the spring. My host family is great and I am learning new things every day.”
  • Mohamed Gamaleldin, Egypt,
 (Motsamai-Burt family). “Making lots of friends, the teachers and the way that they teach. I enjoy becoming more independent—traveling here from Egypt, from across the world.
  • Vanessa Msagwa, Tanzania,
 (Bailey-Walker family). “The diversity, the soccer team and being on stage in a concert. The opportunities for exchange students here are wonderful. Cleveland Heights High School is the best!”
  • Francisco Rossi, Uruguay, 
(Yelsky family). “People here are very friendly, the teachers are nice and the school has new technology. I like meeting the students and I love my host family.”
  • Matilda Schiefelbein, Germany, (Kadish-Pietro family). “The AFS Club, the students and teachers. I am enjoying learning about Cleveland and about American culture.”

For more than half a century, AFS has promoted world peace through its intercultural exchange program. For information about hosting a student or sending a student abroad, contact Carla Bailey at

Joy Henderson

Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison for Heights High.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 12:57 PM, 12.30.2015