Foreign exchange student navigates life and sports in the Valley

Foreign exchange student navigates life and sports in the Valley
1 year 7 months 3 weeks ago Thursday, October 27 2022 Oct 27, 2022 October 27, 2022 12:49 PM October 27, 2022 in News

The Edinburg North varsity volleyball team is 22-10 this season and is 6-1 in district 31-6A.

A big piece of their team is made up of a foreign exchange student. 

Gaia Benesperi plays as the middle hitter for the team, she is from Tuscany, Italy. She joined a foreign exchange program that allowed a family anywhere in the US to host her for a whole year. That family ended up being from Edinburg. 

Benesperi arrived to the Valley in August. 

"Everything was like huge, because everything in Italy is small," Benesperi said. "They like to do things bigger here. I was scared that I wasn't going to make friends, or people wouldn't talk to me, but whenever they hear my accent, because I have an accent, whenever they hear that, or they hear that I'm Italian they always ask questions, they're really interested in it."

Benesperi says since she's arrived at the Valley, she has learned how to become more independent, and what has really helped her acclimate is volleyball. 

Before she arrived, she spoke with the volleyball coach to see if she'd be able to be on the team. Growing up, she'd play with her mother, who played professionally in Italy.

'She's always talk to me about volleyball," Benesperi said. "And I started playing, and this is my ninth year."

Benesperi has already been making an impact on the team. 

"A few weeks ago I won player of the game award," Benesperi said. "I didn't know what that was, it was unexpected."

Benesperi says the game is different here.

"The rotation is different, and I wasn't used to having a Libero serving, I wasn't used to that," Benesperi said. "Very nice thing about volleyball here is that you have a student section, we're not used to that, because we don't have sports in high school, like you play in a team apart from school."

Benesperi hopes to continue to learn more about herself on and off the court before she returns to Italy next year.

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