Germany and Italy are the countries represented this year at Pahranagat Valley High School by two foreign exchange students, Gaia Garofalo of Naples, Italy, and Lily Kluempn of Berlin, Germany.
Gaia, 17, a senior, is staying with Wade and Tracie Poulsen and daughter McKenzie, and Lily, 16, a junior, is staying with Brandon and Rachel Hosier and daughter Marlee.
Both said studying abroad this year in the U.S. is important to them, though Gaia will not graduate here. “I have another year in Italy,” she said, “because there we have fiveyear high school.”
Lily said she will have two more years of school before graduation in Germany and will have to redo her junior year, but isn’t bothered by that.
Gaia went to New York City in 2018 with her parents for a few weeks, “and I fell in love with America and it was always my dream since I was younger, so I applied to come to study in the U.S. to see and learn of another culture.”
Lily said her reason for wanting to come was to “learn more of the language, to learn more of the country and the culture and make friends on the other side of the world.”
Gaia said Naples is vastly different to Alamo, which is “such a small place,” but she has learned to appreciate it being “very quiet and peaceful here.”
Lily said when she received the email informing her the placement agency had found a host family for her, “I saw that they had horses and was excited about that.” She likes to ride back in her home country. Then she had to look on the internet to see where Alamo was located, and Nevada was much more rural than she imagined.
Gaia has one brother, Antonio, age 12. Her father is a policeman in Naples. Her mother is a homemaker.
Lily also has one brother, age 13. Her father is in the hospitality industry, doing planning with large hotels in Berlin and outlying regions. Her mother works at home online as a product buyer.
At PVHS, both girls have involved themselves with school activities. Both are members of the Panthers cheerleaders and Gaia is also a member of the Lady Panthers volleyball team. Both girls they were told getting involved in the school would be a very good way of getting to know people, their ways of life and the culture much better than not being involved.
Lily has energetically thrown herself into the student atmosphere.
Gaia noted, “It is not my way to hide in the corner, either. This is my once-in-a-lifetime experience. I don’t want to waste it.”
Both Lily and Gaia come from schools of about 1,000 students.
They quickly noticed that the smaller environment is very different. Lily said, “Here, the whole focus is on sports and school spirit. [Alamo is noted as being a very sportsoriented community]. In Germany, it is school, then home to study. Any sports are club sports without the school spirit as in the U.S.”
Gaia echoed the same thoughts. “It’s mostly just academics there. We just study for the next day.” Italy also is more teenage-club-sports oriented.
After high school, Lily said she wants to get into hotel management and hospitality, and Gaia said she is interested in pursuing a career in medical engineering.