Students feel at home, away from home

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From left, Reham Ibrahim, Tristan Moseler and school counselor Bill Orr. From left, Reham Ibrahim, Tristan Moseler and school counselor Bill Orr.

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – In her first days at Middle Township High School in September, Reham Ibrahim was pretty nervous.

Ibrahim had to get used to having boys in her classes, because back home in Egypt she went to a private all-girls school. There are also no school-sponsored clubs and sports at her Egyptian school.

Even as the 17-year-old settled in, she had more reason to be anxious.

Egypt has recently undergone historic changes, with public protests as part of the Arab Spring leading to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak after decades as president. Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected.

Ibrahim of Cairo left home before the latest round of political turmoil erupted in Egypt. She said people have lined up against the government in that country, wanting a new change.

When he started his term, Morsi gave himself expanded powers, including exempting his office from judicial oversight, but in December he reversed much of that move, according to media reports.

More than six months at Middle Township High School, Ibrahim seems to be more adjusted. Ibrahim wants to extend her stay in the United States, attending Middle next year as problems continue in Egypt.

Ibrahim said teachers are friendlier and that they are easier to talk with at Middle Township High School.

That contrasts with the private school in Egypt, she said.

Ibrahim said students are more like a number to the teachers in that country.

“They [teachers] don’t care at all about you,” she said.

She said teachers make classes more enjoyable in America.

At MTHS, she said she enjoys mathematics, English and piano, the latter not being offered at the private school in Egypt.

Ibrahim said at the all-girls school there are no clubs or sports. To get involved in an activity, she would have to pay.

At first, she was hesitant at taking part in activities at Middle. That eventually changed.

She has been involved in the Red Cross Club, played soccer briefly, helped keep score on the swim team and worked behind the scenes in the drama club musical “Little Women” that was staged recently at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center.

Ibrahim may return to Middle Township High School next school year. School counselor Bill Orr said efforts are being made to see if that can happen. She would become a Middle Township resident and graduate from the high school.

She said she would love coming back to Middle Township.

“On the other side, it is tough to leave your country and family,” Ibrahim said.

They live in Cairo.

Whether she is in Egypt or America, she said, there is little she could do to make a change in Egypt.

 “I want to be with my family. It’s my country,” she said.

She is making the best of it, though.

This year, Middle has another exchange student, whom Ibrahim calls her brother. He is Tristan Moseler, 17, of Germany. He also has been attending Middle Township High School since September.

The two students are part of the ASSE International Student Exchange Program.

Moseler said school in the United States has brought him more opportunities. Moseler was involved in soccer and swimming and he is playing golf at Middle.

After-school activities also come a cost in Germany and they are not as “intense” as in America, he said.

Moseler played soccer in Germany since he was 6, he said.

He is also able to play three sports in Cape May County. In Germany the sport would last all year, he said.

“I like to do something with my body – like to move,” he said.

Moseler said he found it easier getting settled in at Middle when he came last year. He quickly became involved with activities, he said.

“It went pretty good for me because of the sports,” he said.

Moseler and Ibrahim take almost the same classes.

Moseler said he enjoys physics the most at Middle Township High School “probably because I don’t get too much homework there.”

He does miss his family, though; staying busy helps, he said.

“It’s sometimes hard,” Moseler said.

The two exchange students praised the family they are staying with in Rio Grande. Moseler and Ibrahim were complimented, too.  Their host family called them great.

Fred Hofstetter, along with his wife, Sue, hosts the students.

The family has been housing exchange students for several years, Orr said. They’ve had students from such places as South Korea, Brazil and Spain.

“It’s just interesting,” Hofstetter said. “We learn more about their countries and they learn about us.”

 “It almost feels like family,” Moseler said.

Moseler may also be back in America, too.

He said he hopes to enroll in college in Germany, France and America. He wants to visit his host family and Ibrahim as well.

Most of the exchange students who attend Middle Township High School would rather remain in America once their term is up, Orr said.

For more information about being a host family, call the Hofstetters at 886-4546.

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