Morenci's exchange students: Maëlle Delhaise 2012.10.24

Written by David Green.

maelleExchange students from Europe generally come from centuries-old cities with historical pasts. That's not the case for Maëlle Delhaise of Belgium. Her home town of Louvain-la-Neuve was built in the late 1960s as a planned city to house a university.

Louvain-la-Neuve, a city of about 30,000 people, is located in the central, French-speaking region of Belgium south of Brussels. It's a city for pedestrians, with transportation located below ground and the street level designed for walkers and bicyclists.

Maëlle says she isn't accustomed to needing a car to get around, but that's certainly the case for her host family, Bill and Sarah Stiver, who live in rural Waldron.

Back in Belgium, Maëlle's mother works as a physical education teacher and her father is an engineer. She has one older sister and one younger sister, and she now has a temporary sister, Tess Stiver, who is in seventh grade in Morenci.

Maëlle's graduating class at home numbered 200 students and now she's in a school where most everyone knows everyone else.

"It's different here," she said, "but I like both."

She's enjoying the more in-depth look at America in her history class here and she also likes reading American novels in English class. Like most exchange students, she finds classes easier in America than at home, other than adjusting to the language difference.

She's a member of Morenci's cross country team and generally finishes as the number four runner. She did some running at home, but never in a competitive format. It's her first team experience and she might extend that by joining the basketball squad.

That experience would be cut short because Maëlle is in Morenci for only half of a school year. Before she returns home, she's going to a L'Arche community in Nova Scotia to volunteer. The organization was founded in Canada to create "communities" for developmentally disabled people. L'Arche now has locations in several countries around the world.

After that, it's back to Belgium for college, perhaps to study law.

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