Ainara in Ashland: Exchange Student from Spain in Town for the New School Year


Tiffany Jobe, Editor

The Ashland Beacon


   One of the best ways to learn about another culture is to host an exchange student. Ask me how I know.

   In Spring of this year, my family chose a teenage girl named Ainara from a long list of students in Spain who wanted to come to the United States for the 2021/2022 school year. Their application process is lengthy and very detailed; the students and their parents write letters to the potential host families, make videos showing them in their everyday lives, go through testing and interviews with teachers and government officials.

   Ainara was from a family very similar to ours so choosing her was easy. Much like our youngest daughter, Addison, she loves sports, music, and all things teenager.

   We began communication with Ainara soon after and immediately knew she was going to fit in with our family. We have a strong relationship with her parents as well, and that makes it even better. We talked several times a week, if not every day, until her arrival.

   Ainara came to Ashland in mid-July because she wanted to play volleyball for Blazer High School. She arrived at midnight on a Saturday night and was at practice Monday morning at 8 a.m. for tryouts that same week. Although it has been a huge adjustment with the difference in the way the game is played in her country, she has done well. She earned a spot on the JV team and we are so excited to go watch her play.

   Ainara is from Barcelona, which you can imagine is quite different from Ashland, Kentucky. Yesterday we took her to a friend’s farm, and I think it was quite the experience for her. She was not thrilled with most of the animals there, particularly the chickens, but did really enjoy riding in the side-by-side with Addison and their new friend, Renzi, blasting music and singing along. I watched them go around and around in circles in an empty field for over an hour. They were making memories that all three of them will keep in their heart for the rest of their lives.

   Ainara will be here for the next 10 months and experiences like yesterday are what we hope to keep giving her while she is here. We are equally excited to learn all the things she will teach our family, and our community as well!