Leila Morof: DGS’s gift from Germany

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Rhaya Truman is the Managing Editor of the Blueprint.

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Leila Morof looks like any other girl venturing through a typical year of high school. She is involved in multiple clubs, on the Pintos dance team and loves watching Netflix. But actually, she is our only exchange student from Germany joining our student body and learning many new things along the way.

The process is selective and not many students have the opportunity to study abroad.

“In school my English teacher talked to be me about this scholarship and I did not plan to go on an exchange but then I read through all the documents. If you win the scholarship it doesn’t cost any money because otherwise going on an exchange is very expensive. So, I just applied for it and tried and I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did, so I just came here,” Morof said.

Assistant Principal Vince Walsh-Rock, the go-to person who deals the most with the exchange student programs, agrees that the process can be tedious and takes a lot of time. First the application has to go through a program, get accepted and then the process of choosing a host family and more comes right behind everything else.  

“They [exchange students] write essays and tell us what they want to do when they are here, what they are excited about and any sports or activities they are interested in. Then we confirm with the agency that we have a spot and we will take them and then they enroll like any other student. They then participate in South High School like any other student,” Walsh-Rock said.

Morof believes that the change in school systems is one of the most overwhelming differences she is still getting used to.

“In Germany we don’t have any clubs, dances or anything like that. Here you have so many events so that is a very new experience for me that I like. School here is way more social and a place for friends, I would say. Whereas in Germany it is more focused on studying and learning. In Germany we have three different types of schools, not one school for everybody. So I like that there are so many different people here,” Morof said.

Speaking of diversity, Walsh-Rock says that the aspect of diversity seems to be one of the main reasons exchange students love their visits to DGS so much.

“Diversity in thought, diversity in culture, diversity in race, diversity in socioeconomic status and diversity in experience. They have really engaged around the diversity because they are bringing that type of perspective to the school, so that is what I tend to hear as to why they enjoy being here at South High School,” Walsh-Rock said.

During her stay at DGS, Leila Morof has become involved in both the Pintos, the dance team, and the student council. Describing herself as “ambitious and open to new things,” Morof is attempting many new things with an open mind. 

Leila is open to trying so many things, and she never gives up when she is learning a new dance or skill. She is able to pick up on dances super quick and rarely has confusion on new skills. She has been a hard worker since the first day of practice. Leila’s open and positive mindset brings a lot of good vibes to our practices … Watching her learn quickly and be so excited to be a part of dance brings so much positivity and fun to the team,“ Nina Pinto, a teammate on the dance team, said.

Although she still has a majority of the school year to continue her learning experience, Morof has already felt the difference.

“I feel a lot more independent now because if you are not with your family for a while and you have to find everything out yourself, it kind of really builds your character because you are on your own. That is the big change for now and I think the rest will come with time,” Morof said.

Morof has expressed that she wants to be able to take a lot out of this opportunity. She would like to be able to open the doors for future exchange students and ultimately be changed for the rest of her life.

“I want to meet a lot of people that I can keep touch with and also my host family that I can always come back to here. I have thought about DGS and my school back in Germany starting something together like writing letters to each other or email friends … I have grown so much as a person through seeing a new culture and realizing that everything is not the way that it is at home and knowing there is just so much more out there,” Morof said.