Foreign exchange student plays for Foothill’s first tennis team

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Foreign exchange student plays for Foothill’s first tennis team

Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Mallery Kinnun

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German exchange student and Foothill senior Lea Menesklou is adapting to the American lifestyle.

Menesklou first heard about the foreign exchange program through one of her teachers in Germany. Her interest grew as the teacher described the many experiences that kids can have through these programs.

“I asked him if I could do [it] and he supported me,” said Menesklou.

She was asked to write down the top three countries that she would like to study abroad in, and the United States was her first choice. Menesklou applied through the American Field Service (AFS) program, which specializes in exchange student programs in the United States.

Menesklou was very excited to study in a new country, and her friends and family were very supportive of this choice.

“My family supported me, and they thought [that it would] be a great experience,” said Menesklou. “[But it was also] really sad […] I had to leave my friends.”

At the beginning of September, the Levesque family welcomed Menesklou into their home. Foothill sophomore and the youngest daughter of the host family, Anna-Kate Levesque, said that “it was kind of weird at first […] but I just wanted another sibling in the house.”

Levesque said that her family chose Menesklou because she “just seemed [to have] the most in common with our family. [Plus], we wanted someone who spoke French because our family’s French.”

Living with a new family was strange at first for Menesklou.

“In the beginning it’s kind of weird because you don’t know what you’re allowed to do. After a while you find out what you can do and my family […] they do everything for me and I’m really happy,” she said.

Menesklou was able to find her place at Foothill right away, and especially enjoyed how friendly and cooperative the teachers were to her.

“It’s not like a normal high school […] it’s small but it’s so cool,” she said. “I love that they use technology because in Germany we have to write with a piece of chalk on a board and here they use white boards, iPads, [and] computers. I love that.”

Menesklou was also very nervous in starting at a new school.

“When you [come] here there are groups and everybody knows everybody. I came here and was like, ‘Okay [I’m] alone,’” she said.

The friendliness of Foothill’s campus was a big surprise for Menesklou, but she was very thankful for it.

Levesque recalls that on the first day of school she was thinking, “Where’s Lea?” but found that Menesklou was already off making new friends.

Levesque also said that Menesklou loves the activities at Foothill such as clubs, and sports because “they don’t get them [in Germany].”

“I played tennis before in Germany and I love to play[…] I thought it [would be] a good opportunity to make new friends,” said Menesklou.

The Foothill girls’ tennis coach, Brad McClain, notes what a great player she is and her popularity amongst her teammates.

“Lea is very popular with her team. They love her,” said McClain.

The coach also mentions what a skilled player Menesklou is and how she became even better since the beginning of the tennis season.

“Lea’s a very consistent player. She has a very good backhand, that’s probably her strongest shot […] she’s [also] tenacious,” said McClain. “She’s a player on this team that knows how to fight and is going to give her best.”

McClain also highlighted Menesklou’s speed and how she has adjusted very well from playing on clay courts in Germany.

“The ball travels much faster and skids more off of a hard court than it does a clay court. A clay court is entirely different,” he said.

Menesklou was very happy and grateful to be a part of Foothill’s first tennis team.

“We are a great team and I love all the people who are playing here and it’s fun,” she said.

Menesklou hopes to be able to continue playing tennis throughout high school and then continue to practice after graduating “at least once a week, just for fun.”

Foothill has been a great place for Menesklou to begin her worldwide adventures and she is loving all the new things she gets to experience. Not only is she making history by participating in Foothill’s very first sports program, but Menesklou is also meeting new people and traveling to famous landmarks in Southern California with her organization.

 

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Menesklou is very grateful for the chance to make “great experiences [and] meet new people,” as well as improve her English, which Coach McClain believes is already “very good.”

Being able to “see the world” is something that Lea is very grateful for and she is glad that her family, new and old, has been so supportive.

Background Photo Credit: Carrie Coonan/The Foothill Dragon Press

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