The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

School Columnists

December 13, 2012

Exchange students from Germany, Palestine learn about game of football by playing on Conneaut Spartans team

CONNEAUT — Conneaut has become a second home for foreign exchange students Laith Alami and Daniel Buhl. Each of them grew up from very different parts of the world. Both came to the United States with high hopes of great experiences and to improve their educations.

Laith Alami, age 16, came to America in order to receive a better education and to try new things. Because he was born and raised in Palestine, his life has been very different from the typical American.

“In the United States I have many freedoms that I don’t back home,” Alami said. “Palestine is under occupation, so it makes life very difficult. I grew up in a very violent environment.”

Education is also very different in the United States compared to Palestine. Academic success rests solely on the effort of the student. Students’ grades are based 90 percent on tests, which can prove to be very difficult for some students. They also take up to 13 different courses a year, which they do not get to choose.

Alami’s main interests revolve around sports. Back in Palestine, he is a huge soccer fanatic. He said he would practice for four hours every day and would do anything to be on a soccer field.

When he came to America, however, he wanted to try something new, so he joined the football team. He became the team’s kicker and earned some very crucial varsity minutes. Kicking a football became second nature to him after a few weeks. He ended up earning a varsity letter.

“It was amazing,” Alami said. “The football team is a big family. I was on one of the best soccer teams back home, but we did not have a bond like the Conneaut football team does.”

Alami also decided to try wrestling for a winter sport and is undecided if he will participate in another sport during the spring. He said when he leaves at the end of June, he is going to miss football and his new friends the most.

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