Holidays away from home

Alexa Hodges, Staff Reporter

     Many AHS students and their families have traditional ways of celebrating, whether it’s the way the Christmas tree is decorated to what meals are eaten. As for the students visiting and originating from other countries, their holidays this year will be anything but usual. Being with another family away from home, AHS foreign exchange students will experience the holidays in a way that they might not be used to.
Sophomore Ludovich Delisle, an exchange student from Switzerland, is looking forward to spending the holidays with his host brother, junior Matt Dean. In previous years, Delisle’s Christmases tended to be busy, as he would visit both his parents’ families and their close friends. His family would pass fondue, “a Swiss specialty,” according to Delisle, around the table. This year, Delisle will be skiing in Utah with the Dean family.
Junior Astrid Bjorgul will be enjoying the holidays with her host junior Ryann Murray’s family. From Norway, Bjorgul typically celebrates on Christmas Eve. “We usually go to church in the morning, then get together with our family in the afternoon”, she said.
When it comes to plans for this year with the Murray family, Bjorgul is celebrating Christmas Day in Charlottesville, but will be spending time in Philadelphia after. She said, “I look forward to seeing how Christmas is celebrated differently here…And the presents of course!”
Senior Ine Landehagen, who is staying with junior Julie Shaw, is also from Norway. For her family’s festivities, Landehagen said, “My grandma always makes way too much food, like pinnekjøtt (lamb), ribbe (loin rib of pork), medisterkaker (pork patties) and sossiser (a type of sausage). Although Landehagen is sad she will be without her family, she said, “This year will still be great with my new family.”
AHS ESOL students are also celebrating differently. Freshman Karen Navas, originally from Honduras, would take part in dancing with family and friends, followed by a series of fireworks to end the night. Freshman Sergio Cardona-Fuentes, from El Salvador, has a similar way of doing things, adding that, “We stay up all night and go everywhere,” which is different for Americans as many places are closed during the holidays.
Though their winter holiday will be out of the norm, students of diverse cultures are enjoying the holidays.