Coming to America: A lesson Navarro is learning when basketball visits the United States
Published on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at 8:53 pm
By Jim Walker
South Point – When in Rome, do as the Romans do. While in America, I play basketball.
And so foreign exchange student Araceli Navarro has traveled from Spain to South Point to experience American culture, Appalachian style.
Navarro is staying with the Caleb Copley family and trying to learn new things from people, from education to sports. While this is a great learning experience, there is quite an adjustment period.
“I wanted to learn more about American culture and live a different experience so I did the exchange,” Navarro said.
“Obviously, the first weeks it’s strange because I don’t know everyone’s different lifestyles. It’s not bad, it’s different. But you can learn how to live with different people so it’s a good experience.
Navarro has a brother, Roman, who is 6-foot-8 and plays college basketball and semi-pro in his native Spain, where players can do both.
“He’s good,” Navarro said of her brother.
Araceli said he has played a little basketball “but not here.”
“I’ve been watching my brother since I was little and I really love basketball and the games and I’ve been watching it. I didn’t know I was going to play, but I got an offer and I decided to give it a try.
But Navarro quickly realized that there was a big difference between watching and playing.
“The first week it was difficult for me to understand everything and I still have a difficult tie to understand the plays. But I’m really trying and I’m getting there, so it’s difficult but not too much,” Navarro said.
Things may have been awkward for Navarro at first when she arrived at the Copley home, but Caleb said Copley’s family also had an adjustment period.
When Navayaro arrived there was a slight problem with the language – to be precise – the pronunciation. Copley said Navarro speaks English well and her accent is very easy to understand, but the Southeast Ohio accent was difficult for her at first.
“She’s worked on her English since she was a little kid,” Copley said. “But she said our accents threw her off when she first got here. If she understood what we were saying, she could understand the words. It would be the same if someone came here from New York. They wouldn’t have a clue. They wouldn’t pick up on the nuances of our accent.
“She picked up girls better than me. I have a slightly stronger accent and she had a little more trouble with me. She sometimes hears me talking and she smiles and nods to figure out what I mean. But she said she has it now. I told her all she had to do was tell me and she said ‘I know but I don’t know everyone yet. I was still trying to figure it all out.
Navarro, who is from Spain and speaks Spanish, said that if he is mad, he has no temptation to use his foreign language to say something nasty to an official or an opposing player.
“It would be funny, but I haven’t tried it,” Navarro said with a laugh.
Learning to understand the game from a game perspective has been easy for her thanks to head coach Dave Adams and assistant coaches Todd Pennington, Kayla Fletcher and Wes Hall.
“(Coach Adams) is really good. All the coaches are good. They’re helping me a lot, so I’m very thankful,” he said.
While each was helpful, Navarro said she learned many things but one lesson stood out to her above all else.
“The most important thing I learned from this experience is to be independent and you have to learn how to be with your parents or with everyone’s help all the time. Try to figure things out for yourself,” Navarro said.
Copley said he’s impressed with how well Navarro has learned to navigate his way around the area.
“She gets around by herself. She does very well. Every once in a while she gets culturally snagged, but we’re there to explain things she doesn’t understand. Mostly, she loves America,” Copley said.
“It opened my eyes to how the rest of the world sees America. The first time she saw a school bus she wanted to get a picture of herself with it. She said we only see these things in movies. American culture is so global with movies. She always sees things that she thinks are American things. They’re all American. Watch movies and TV shows. They have TV shows, but not the best quality. American singers and actors are more global superstars.
“She’s 16 years old and gave up a year of her life to come here and be a part of American culture. That’s how important it is to her. She makes TikTok videos. She made one with an Italian foreign exchange student and one of the American students was teaching each other the language, trying to say the same thing in different languages. went viral in Spain. It had 100,000 views overnight. She has a lot of followers because they want to see what American culture is like for a Spanish girl.
There is one thing we have learned that has been most surprising since her arrival.
“I really like high school,” he said. “I really like my classes. I like going to school and I didn’t expect that.
Navarro said everything about the education system was different from what he had experienced in Spain.
“The teachers, how they teach you, all the things we have here are different,” Navarro said and later added, “It’s great. I have no doubt about that.”
Copley said Navarro is not underestimating his teachers in Spain.
“I think the biggest thing she felt was that in Spain her teachers didn’t care, here the teachers seem more interested not in what they teach their students but in their opinions and how the students feel about things. It’s more of a real relationship and not just teaching and learning. And she Loves that aspect,” Copley said.
One area where Copley said Navarro gets bonus points is the time she spends in the bathroom getting ready.
“It’s not too bad compared to American women,” Copley said with a laugh.
Copley has five children – four girls and one boy. Eldest daughter Addison is 14 and Navarro is 16.
“This is the first time we’ve had an exchange student and we couldn’t have gotten any better than what we did. She fits right in with us and she’s great with the kids. She and Addison are like best friends,” Copley said.
“The other night we were doing some Christmas stuff and he was thinking about it being halfway through the year and her coming back. She is part of our family now. We did our family Christmas picture and she was in it. It will be hard for us to see her coming back. I am sure we will go there and visit. His grandmother has already said that we should come.
And since Navarro had to learn to live like an American while in America, Copleys seems to have a lesson to learn. When in Spain, do as the Spaniards do.
“Encenam a vivir español.” (Translated: Teach me how to live Spanish.)